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Vengeance: Crystal Eye

My last dalliance with Dutch Melodic Rock act Vengeance came some twenty-five years ago when I bought their third album Take It Or Leave It, a record I remember more for the super-cheesy (but ultra-fun) single "Rock 'n' Roll Shower" and its vocoder chorus, than anything else. However in the intervening two and a half decades (wow that makes me sound old.....) Vengeance have on a semi-regular basis released new music, with the most recent effort coming three years ago in the shape of Soul Collector. However with Crystal Eye, Vengeance are a much changed act from the one I kinda remember, or indeed the one who recorded Soul Collector. Still in place is vocalist Leon Goewie, but this time out the list of co-stars is impressive to say the least, with Alice Cooper guitarist Kerri Kelli, MSG bassist Chris Glen and AC/DC, Asia, The Firm and Uriah Heep drummer Chris Slade offering the type of musical back-up that any singer would die for. Gone also are the bouncy Rock-lite choruses and super smooth almost AOR tendencies and in their place comes a much tougher, Metal attack. It is something that surprisingly enough Goewie's vocals sound perfectly tailored for, with him offering a far rougher delivery that gives a Bluesy authenticity that I would never have expected from him. Add to that the absolutely solid rhythm work from the Chris's Glen and Slade (the most under rated drummer in the business and a joy to watch live) and all that is left to make Crystal Eye a real corker of an album is the stinging guitar work that Kelli serves up so convincingly.

The majority of the of the songs were contributed in collaboration between Goewie and Mad Max singer and guitarist Michael Voss (whose band Mad Max also have a new album out right now), and it is clear that the pair hit it off big time. Voss, who currently performs in the Michael Schenker Band with Chris Glen, also produced the album, creating a sharp clear sound from which these songs really punch home. The biting guitar work, hammering drums and pounding bass of "Desperate Women" are a perfect example of the power and precision that Vengeance have captured on Crystal Eye, whereas "Bad To The Bone" reminds of the excellent sort of stuff that modern day Saxon serve up. "Shock Me Now" on the other hand comes across like a groove laden Accept (it works, honestly!). Add to that the Tony Martin (Black Sabbath/Mollo-Martin) penned groove 'n' grind of "Whole Lotta Metal" and the Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) contribution of "Crystal Eye" (Lucassen used to be the guitarist in Vengeance, believe it or not), which builds with sumptuous, unmistakable Arjen atmospherics and you have a varied, yet completely focused record.

The album proper (there's a limited version with two bonus tracks) closes with "Jan's End Piece", which is a short, atmospheric guitar workout from the long-time Vengeance guitarist Jan Somer who died recently. It is a beautiful, haunting addition to the album and the inclusion of his son and Delain guitarist Timo as a guest on the album is also an extremely nice touch.

Being able to combine hooks and accessibility with hard hitting riffs and powerhouse vocals, Vengeance have with Crystal Eye, released an album that really is as formidable as it is surprising. Very impressive indeed.


Track Listing
1. Me And You
2. Bad To The Bone
3. Barbeque
4. Shock Me Now
5. Five Knuckle Shuffle
6. Desperate Woman
7. Whole Lotta Metal
8. Promise Me
9. Crystal Eye
10. Missing
11. Jan's End Piece
12. Paint This Town (bonus track)
13. Barbeque (radio edit)(bonus track)

Added: January 27th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Vengeance Online
Hits: 1649
Language: english

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