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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Vengeance

Back In The Ring

Review by Mike Korn

It's true that I spend most of my time listening to extreme or "serious" heavy metal. But that doesn't mean I can't crack open a brew, kick back and head bang with down and dirty, no-messin' hard rock. In fact, it often comes as a welcome relief from the usual Satanic torment and overwrought bombast I gladly abuse myself with. Enter the Dutch band Vengeance - the veteran Dutch band Vengeance. That is Vengeance as in, the "had a record out in 1982" Dutch band Vengeance. I vaguely remember hearing the name in the early 80's and the band actually was on a major label at one point, but they faded from my memory until now. I don't think I'll be forgetting them any more. Wow, this is some cranked up, high-energy heavy metal rawk that smells like classic AC/DC mixed with the best of hair bands like Whitesnake and Cinderella. The vocals are snarling, the guitars bite and wail and the hooks sink in deep. It's not something you're going to spend hours pondering (like the other band I've reviewed this issue, Antiquus) but you will get maximum satisfaction from these dudes if you seek commercial metal that hits you in the mush like a UFC fighter. I hope these guys manage to stick around this time!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Back In The Ring
The bell rings and the band hits you right away with a strong body blow. This is great crunching AC/DC style rifferama that sounds like it could have come off the Aussies' underrated Flick of the Switch. Vocalist Leon Gouwdie sounds somewhat like Bon Scott, but even more like Krokus' Marc Storace. He's got fire and energy to spare!
No Mercy
If the title track was a stiff shot to the breadbasket, Vengeance lands a haymaker with this rowdy rocker that comes across fast and ferocious. The chorus is awesome and will have you banging away furiously! This is by far the album's best and heaviest track...the only negative is that the rest of the disc has a hard time measuring up to it! Check out the cool twin guitar break that separates the band from obvious AC/DC clonedom.
Mind Over Matter
This one shows a bit more of the hair metal side of Vengeance. It's still pretty hard-hitting but Gouwdie's vocals cool down to a moodier shade and the tune is more atmospheric. The chorus is again catchy, but now the backing vocals add a layer of melody to the tune.
Captain Moonlight
"Quirky" is the word for this one, which starts with an odd combination of a techno beat and bluesy guitar soloing. It's got plenty of crunch and the memorability saves the track, but I certainly could have done without the silly "dit-dit-doo-doo-doo" backing vocals. They sap a little of the toughness out of the otherwise strong bluesy rocker. It's certainly different from the opening AC/DC barrage of "Back In the Ring.”
Holy Water
Meaner than a badger with his paw in a trap, this grinds along in a mid-paced fashion. The song is simple, heavy and effective and Gouwdie again shows his vocal versatility without losing his rough edge. "Is there anybody out there? / Where angels waste their time / And God is out of sight"
Bad Attitude
This isn't too different from "Holy Water,” except it's a little faster and it reminds me of the unjustly forgotten Badlands. It’s not anything earth-shattering but a pleasing slab of tasty blues metal.
Had Enuff
This tale of an affair gone sour features one of the album's poppiest choruses, with a touch of Whitesnake feeling to it. Fortunately, they keep the guitars cranked up and feisty so they avoid the cloying sweetness that kills a lot of this type of material. There's a kind of melancholy vibe to this tune.
Now And Then
Things started to take a wrong turn here. The cheesy synths and the backing vocals reduce this to glam metal piffery. Vengeance does way better with gritty stuff like "No Mercy" and "Holy Water.” In combination with "Had Enuff,” the disc is starting to lose some steam. Also, there's too much cowbell!
Cowboy Style
This is more like it. The intro is frankly goofy, but when the sleazy AC/DC style guitar kicks in, the cut takes off. There is a funny semi-country feel to this and the "Ay-yi-yippy, ay-yi-hippy, ay-yi-yippy-yippy ay" singalong is not just silly but really memorable as well. A greasy slide guitar solo adds more of that Southern-fried charm. This would have been a huge FM radio hit in the 80's, I'm thinking.
Rip It Off
The name here is kind of ironic, because this song really does rip off several more notable tunes. The "For Those About To Rock" intro is blatant and the main verse riff is one we've heard many times before. But the band's guileless cheek and high energy overcomes the plagiarism...barely. It's a fun song but I was hoping that another cut in the vein of "No Mercy" would wrap this up.
Eveline
Stick around for a minute and you'll hear this brief acoustic ballad, definitely in the vein of similar schmaltzy cuts from Cinderella, Whitesnake, etc. This will cause girls to grab their guys and the lighters to ignite, but it's short enough to not become annoying and it does show another side to the band.
 
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