Sound — 7
Whitesnake was put under the microscope with the release of its 10th record Good To Be Bad back in 2008 and for good reason. That particular album the first for the band in 11 years in many ways validated just exactly why Whitesnake has been a household name in rock for several decades. The big splash has settled, and David Coverdale and the boys are back again (minus the magnifying glass at least to some extent) to present its latest batch of big-chorus, guitar-driven tunes on Forevermore. Given the increasing number of mellow offerings, it's obvious in many ways that the band is trying to prove itself as mature musicians looking to expand their horizons. That's all well and good, but that often also means that the pace is slowed down. Forevermore isn't a bad album by any means, but it also doesn't scream classic.
The 13 tracks certainly cover the expected Whitesnake ground: blues goodness in one moment, straightforward rock grittiness in the next, and of course, a big helping of ballads. Are there any songs that come close to having the staying power of Here I Go Again or Slide It In? Well, not entirely. Whitesnake is absolutely at its best when it injects plenty of blues into its core songwriting, and guitarist Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach supply some astoundingly fantastic riffs. Whipping Boy Blues and Steal Your Heart Away are standouts for their grooves (not to mention the latter's slide work), while Love Will Set You Free and Dogs in the Street capture a more straightforward rock essence with a heavy dose of all-out grit. There are more than a few mediocre songs on Forevermore, but Aldrich and Beach always seem to swoop in to save the day.
Coverdale can still be considered a vocal dynamo at the age of 59. The man hasn't ebbed vocally, although he seems to be just as content to sing more mid-tempo tracks as the powerhouse numbers. Easier Said Than Done and Fare Thee Well represent his more low-key side, and while he still sounds compelling, those particular tracks simply don't engage like the other 11 offerings. As much as the idea of a power ballad gets abused, Whitesnake is a band that in the past has delivered thanks to Coverdale's prowess at conveying emotional themes. Forevermore isn't jam-packed with anything that follows in the footsteps of Is This Love, but the title track is very possibly the best song on the entire album. A heartfelt-yet-melancholy ballad, Forevermore even builds into its own Kashmir moment.
Lyrics — 6
The lyrical content is certainly not the strong point of Forevermore, if only for the fact that you've heard plenty of the rhyme schemes time and time again. To put it simply, Whitesnake is borrowing from a long line of standard rock templates, which is nothing new for them or any other rock band. A track like Easier Said Than Done features lines like, You're everything I've waited for; Now I don't have to look no more; You're everything I want you to be; baby; Baby why don't you stay with me? There's nothing wrong with those sentiments or any of the others, but you just know what's coming with each lyric.
Overall Impression — 8
Even if you have a preference for the John Sykes or Steve Vai eras, Whitesnake's lineup is currently a solid one. That doesn't always translate into the most original songwriting, but in terms of musicianship there are multiple wow moments. The guitar work is top-notch and the solos are abundant. Forevermore doesn't come close to matching some of the classics of decade's past, but songs like the title track and Whipping Boy Blues indicate that Whitesnake still has more to offer almost 35 years after its original formation.