Untimely and tragic deaths are becoming far too frequent an occurrence in the world of rock and heavy metal and Vengeance have not been immune to such tragedy with guitarist Jan Somers unexpectedly passing away in 2011. To their credit, Vengeance have continued and have released their latest album “Crystal Eye” to further add to their lengthy back catalogue that began back in 1984.
The Dutch melodic hard rock/metal band, spearheaded by vocalist Leon Goewie have had a topsy-turvy career one way and another and many may argue that they have never achieved the kind of success that they so craved and threatened to engineer towards the back end of the 80s off the back of the acclaimed classic “Take It Or Leave It” released in 1987. So it is all credit to them that the fire still burns bright enough to continue well into their third decade, creating the music that they so love.
In 2012, the line-up is much altered and now features guitarist Keri Kelli (ex-Alice Cooper), bassist Chris Glen (Michael Schenker Group) and drummer Chris Slade (ex-AC/DC). In fact, it is the same line-up as the AC/DC covers band Steel Circle, so may be familiar to some.
New line-up or not though, the basic musical approach remains relatively constant as “Crystal Eye” is comprised of eleven no-nonsense hard rock tracks that offer plenty of hooks, melodies and strong sing-a-long choruses, just like any melodic hard rock album should. It is not the best that the genre has to offer if I am to be brutally honest; indeed in a genre that has seen a real injection of popularity and talent over recent years, it would take a lot to remain at the top. Nevertheless, I do really enjoy “Crystal Eye” and if you’re a fan of this genre, I suspect you will too.
The album begins as it means to go on, with a chunky up-tempo hard rocker in the form of ‘Me And You’. The bridge and chorus section is wonderfully instant and catchy, topped off with a powerful, energetic and slightly gravelly vocal performance from Goewie. There’s room for a little cheese thanks to the slightly silly ‘Barbeque’ but big rockers like ‘Bad To The Bone’ and ‘Desperate Woman’ pull things round, as does the genuinely noteworthy ballad ‘Missing’.
Vengeance draw the album to a close in an understandably sentimental vein courtesy of the instrumental ‘Jans End Piece’ which, as the name suggests, features one of the very final performances by Jan Somers. It is a fitting tribute and a really nice way in which to conclude a very commendable album indeed.