Released: 2012, www.spv.de
It is no secret that some of the key factors in the longevity of certain Metal bands are the passion and drive of the artists and fans. There are certain bands that avoid trends, ignore the fads, and continue on year after year, with or without commercial success. They continue to write, record and tour because, like us they love Metal. I would hazard a guess that at this point 30 years into a career, it’s not about the fame and fortune. I happened to notice that recently seven classic bands have reached (or are about to reach) their 30th anniversary and all of them have put our new, full-length studio albums in the past few months. 30 years is a long time in any career, especially one as fickle as the Rock ’n’ Roll business. This month, I decided to pay tribute to these fine bands in a feature where I review all their most recent releases. As of 2012, most of these bands have little or no representation on this site, and I’m here to fix that. It’s hard to imagine that almost 30 years ago, as a teenager, I was buying the debut albums of all of these bands, on cassette! The bands in this feature are Burning Starr (US), Exxplorer (US) Halloween (US), Mad Max (Ger), Oz (Fin), Sinner (Ger), Vengeance (Hol). They are the unsung, heads-down, in the trenches, Metal veterans that emerged in the very early 80’s, and are still going strong. They deserve your respect and attention.
A lot of people have come and gone over the years from Vengeance. Singer Leon Goewie is still at the helm with his distinct voice for album number nine, CRYSTAL EYE. Of course longtime guitarist Jan Somers died in early 2011 and this album has some of his last work including the 1:18 finale, a solo called ‘Jans End Piece’ which sounds live, but it may be crowd noise added. A fitting tribute.
The band has gone through over 20 people over the years and now it really has come down to Goewie walking into the sunset with the band name. He brought some impressive talent along for the recording of this album. Chris Slade (AC/DC) on drums, Kerri Kelli (Alice Cooper) on guitar and Chris Glen (MSG) on bass, an impressive talent to be sure but it feels more like a Goewie solo album with all these hired guns. Tony Martin contributed a song called ‘Whole Lotta Metal’ which has that patented Vengeance swing/shuffle that surfaces from time to time on their records. However, in terms of song-writing it is a Vengeance album through and through! The patented silly humour is back on songs like ‘Barbeque’, ‘Shock Me Now’ and ‘Five Knuckle Shuffle’ (not the Anvil cover) and even the old logo is back!
The album sounds great produced by Michael Voss (Mad Max) and the crystal clear production brings out the distinct rasp in Goewie vocals that has been a strong component of the Vengeance albums. CRYSTAL EYE is really fun. These guys like to have fun with their rock, lyrics about girls and parties and driving melodic metal that catches the ear with simple unencumbered arrangements. My favourite track is probably ‘Desperate Woman’ with a nice gritty guitar tone, pounding rhythm and infectious chorus. The vocal line is very similar to another great Vengeance song ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Shower’ from their 1987 album, TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT.
Who knows where Vengeance will go from here? With any luck we can squeeze a few more albums like CRYSTAL EYE out of this veteran, classic Metal band.