This is the first Vandenberg album for 35 years, the last being Alibi in 1985. I did see Adrians ‘Moonkings’ a while back, that was an excellent gig, the guy is an outstanding guitarist, so I jumped at the chance to listen to the new album, albeit having a different line up. Chilean, Ronnie Romero is on vocals, who is currently the Rainbow frontman and there are guest appearances from Rudy Sarzo and Brian Tichy, who both played with Whitesnake. Former Toto and Doro man, Koen Herfst is on drums and bass is by way of Randy Van Der Elsen who was with Tank. The 10 tracks were produced by Bob Marlette out of LA, who has worked with Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper in the past.
’Shadows Of The Night’ launches with a nice drum intro and thrilling speed guitar, turning into an evenly paced melody. It’s packed with Romero’s vocals, sheer and comfortable at any level. Up next is ‘Freight Train’ one of my favourites, it has a sleazy and punchy rhythm, with a thumping riff. I like the way the guitar stretches and the solo midway reaches every inch of the neck. It gets a little like Purple’s ‘Stormbringer’ in nature, on ‘Hell And High Water’ with a menacing ride of precision chords. The echoes of a distant past are soon re-vamped though, churning the song in a stronger current. Vandenberg take a slower stance on ‘Let It Rain’ velvet waves of lower harmonies and dominant vocals, it’s a mighty fine ballad.
Another of my preferred tracks is ‘Ride Like The Wind’ which has a simple riff, but it repeats and continues to turn the song into a staunchly and very listenable one. With a very descriptive title ’Shitstorm’ took a couple of plays to capture me, but now I think it’s one of the best on ‘2020’. The levels are slung low, guitar mixes with drums and vocals in a way as to create a number with brilliant bad-ass attitude. The mean streak continues a little on ‘Light Up The Sky’, before we hear the old anthem ‘Burning Heart. A favourite with Vandenberg and a US hit back in 1982 when it featured on the debut album. With the fresh voice of Romero, giving it some awesome edge, the song is brought to life again. The guitar is subtle and intricate, backed by the forceful pairing rhythm of Van Der Elsen and Herfst, it’s quite a momentous track. Last up is ’Skyfall’ which has very appropriate lyrics for the circumstances we find ourselves in, concerning Covid 19. Again it’s smooth rock, infused with a catchy chorus and stacks of guitar screaming back at you.
It would be easy to just compare Vandenberg with Rainbow and Whitesnake, Adrian himself was with the latter for 13 years. However, the similarities are minimal, Vandenberg have taken the existing base material of the old school and remoulded it, giving it a total makeover. The result is a staggering collection of full throttle, top notch songs and all brand new except for the re-worked Burning Heart. Yes, fans of their previous work will love this, it’s in the same vein. But being a lover of classic rock and able to appreciate what went before and what is happening now, there’s plenty of room for Vandenberg and what they have achieved on this album.The guitarist sums it up perfectly, with this recent quote – “I believe the vibe we have with this turbo charged line-up is wonderful. We are not at all a nostalgia act, trying to recreate what happened all those years back. This is a brand new dynamic band with a name that has a legacy and I couldn’t be happier with the way it’s turned out.”
1) Shadows of the Night
2) Freight Train
3) Hell and High Water
4) Let It Rain
5) Ride Like The Wind
8) Light Up The Sky
9) Burning Heart – 2020
‘A staggering collection of full throttle, top notch songs’
Highlights – Freight Train, Ride Like The Wind, Shitstorm, Skyfall.
2020 is available to pre-order HERE
Keep up to date with Vandenberg on FACEBOOK