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Album Review : VANDENBERG – 2020

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The guitar maestro himself Adrian Vandenberg has resurrected the band who released 3 albums in the 1980s beginning with VANDENBERG 1982, HEADING FOR A STORM 1983, and ALIBI 1985, so a staggering 35 years later they have returned with fresh material and an altogether fresh looking outfit comprising of

ADRIAN VANDENBERG /Guitars
RONNIE ROMERO /Vocals
KOEN HERFST /Drums
RANDY VAN DER ELSEN / Bass

On the album itself, it states that both RUDY SARZO – Bass, and BRIAN TICHY- Drums make ‘special guest appearances’ Fabulous – totally class musicians contributing to this immense album

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 30 years you should need little or no introduction to who ADRIAN VANDENBERG is, especially after he spent well over a decade playing the world biggest stages with the goliath that is WHITESNAKE.

With this album itself we get treated to 9 new tracks and a tenth song which is a remaking of their 1982 USA hit “BURNING HEART” Most albums that I review are usually sent directly to my inbox as a file but on this occasion I have been fortunate to have a physical copy that I have played on rotate in the car for at least a week and what an impressive album this is.

The songs are cut in the classic rock style of WHITESNAKE and RAINBOW with the icing on the cake being the much in demand RONNIE ROMERO on vocals, this man was snapped up in a heartbeat by RITCHIE BLACKMORE for the reformed RAINBOW and his career has just gone through the roof since then.

He is one of those vocalists very much like JORN LANDE who can switch his style to suite the track, one minute sounding like COVERDALE the next thing you know he is belting out a vocal like DIO.

Album opener is a fist in the air belter “SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT” is in a classic vein circa 1991 with its rattlesnake snare and fast tempo and a chorus to die for.   This as far as openers go sets the bar very high indeed.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqrSfC-kej8&w=560&h=315]

FREIGHT TRAIN” has a slower pace, less frantic all glued together by the rhythm section with powerful riffs and a fine dose of melody, which at the halfway mark has the most delicious of guitar solos peeled off effortlessly by VANDENBERG in this head down no nonsense rocker.

Imagine RAINBOW and I am talking prime RAINBOW with DIO, then you will get the vibe of “HELL OR HIGH WATER”.  This song has the vocal roar and all the power of that classic era. ROMERO’s delivery is simply shattering add a twist of an orchestral soundtrack working away behind the song and the end result is just a master stroke.

RIDE LIKE THE WIND” is another highlight of this release and once again is both catchy and powerful, with a chugging riff that runs the full duration of the track and again full to the brim of pounding drums and more nods pointing to an era when classic rock ruled the airwaves.

SHITSTORM” with its gentle intro of both vocal and guitars and its relaxed tap of the drum rims, which suddenly stops and its foot to the floor with ROMERO announcing ….were riding in a shit storm… another delicious slice of hard rock that won’t fail to get the listener smiling as well as moving and VANDENBERG peeling off some riffs from the stratosphere.

BURNING HEART 2020” is a reworking of the bands stand out radio hit from the early 80s and if I am honest hearing this version was something I had to play a few times as obviously being so aware of the original.

I felt it best just to approach this version as a whole new song and I am glad to say that by doing that the track works really well, with its accustomed acoustic intro and slow build up and a vocalist that proves to anyone listening that he can leave an impressive mark on the ballads as well as the rockers.

Simply put this track is a really lovely piece of music and after all these years it’s obvious as to why it was so successful first time around, with gentle sweeps of the acoustic followed by a powerful emotion filled solo from VANDENBERG, it really was a no brainer to add this to the record.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6OUtgTS6dM&w=560&h=315]

SKYFALL” has another slow building intro then its normal service resumed with a dramatic atmospheric effect, this is a perfect album closer with its barrel rolling drums and that voice working so well with what VANDENBERG brings to the table. What I find works so well is the quiet interludes that are soon forgotten as the group all join forces again to produce a more than climatic end to the album.

2020 is a rock solid release and what it will do for anyone that enjoys this genre is make 40 + minutes an enjoyable experience.

The group have delivered a more than solid set of songs and with the news that the group intend to hit the road in the UK in NOV / DEC 2020 on the weirdly titled “Vandenberg’s wide pants tour !!” I will for one want to be there to see these classy songs performed live.

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Review by Steve Bruty for MPM

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