From the speakers a grand old-school heavy metal riff blasts forth, twists around the heavily driving rhythm and gets joined by a powerful delivery of strong lyrics. Classic style drum fills shift the gears and as the riff comes back at just the right times, the song eventually breaks into a thrash-like guitar chops and then into a blazing solo… The description could well be applied to many a heavy metal classic and so – as the song in question here is the opening track ‘Delusion’ from Vendetta’s new album ‘Heretic Nation’ – the result has all the vital elements to appeal to the fans of traditional heavy metal.
The influences of Vendetta come indeed from the very backbone of heavy metal and the group proudly carries on the traditional sound of their countrymen Priest, Maiden, Saxon and the like, influenced by the past but not restricted by it. After all there are countless of bands that set out to play traditional heavy metal but 90% of are usually rendered only to sounding a weak clone of their predecessors. For a listener’s benefit – Vendetta falls into the remaining 10%.
‘Heretic Nation’ is the second album by this british metal squad, and though the band itself is only some years old, the package is fused together so firmly it feels like these guys were born to play together. Guitarists Edward Box and Pete Thompson form a classic type twin-axe duo that executes both schorching riffs and skilled solos in perfect unison. Gary Foalle on bass and Lee Lamb behind the skins make sure that the album is driven by thunderous metal rhythm and make no mistakes in delivering the goods. The lead singer position is held by Box, who – in his own words – has made notable progress in that field since the first album. This is easy to believe as his vocals are strong and clear throughout the record. As a vocalist Box also keeps to his strengths and though some mean screams and nasty shouts could still add an extra metal dimension to the music, Box’s voice fits the songs very well and avoids sounding generic – the basic texture of the singer’s voice is pleasant to listen to, convincing and in a good way personal.
There are a lot of familiar elements and nods to the direction of classic bands in the songs of ‘Heretic Nation’ but the tracks are written with thought and creativity. Thus – though the songs borrow a thing or two (or three) from the past they don’t sound like second hand copies or recycled ideas. For example the Maiden-style gallop of ‘Age of Annihilation’ and Priestly guitars on ‘My Revelation’ are skillfully applied and feel right in place while ‘Powers That Be’, for one, reminds of vintage Megadeth and instrumental ‘Skaro’ would feel at home on an MSG album. All in all these familiar sounding elements create an approving smile on the listener’s face and just as importantly trigger that instant head-nodding and feet tapping just as a good heavy metal song should. Many choruses and riffs remain in the listener’s head and the impressive guitar solos range from Yngwie-like finger exercises to classy melodic stuff a’la Priest or Scorpions – creating a space of their own in the songs. The more modern side appears from time to time in the form of raw thrashy guitarwork that adds some more heaviness to the songs and every once in a while the songs break into unexpected parts that bend the traditional mold, not too much but enough to add some extra flavour. Most importantly, everything fits together seamlessly and no element sounds forced or out of place.
Not every song on the album is a killer, but there are no fillers either. At their strongest Vendetta is on songs like ‘New Horizon’, ‘My Revelation’, ass-kicking ‘Killing Time’ or in my opinion the strongest cut ‘Delusion’ where everything seems to click in place just the right way. But like said, there’s no need to skip any songs – the entity is very solid.
‘Heretic Nation’ is a good proof that in order to make high quality traditional heavy metal, one doesn’t need to try and push it’s boundaries too far or forcedly add new or alien elements to it. All you need is good songwriting and good performance. This is what Vendetta does. They believe in what they do and do it really well. ‘Heretic Nation’ is the strongest traditional heavy metal album of the year and should make many cd-players smoke in exhaustion and bring the band some well-deserved live spots. True New Wave Of British…. Steel!
2. Age of Annihilation
3. New Horizon
4. My Revelation
6. A Glass Half Empty
7. Killing Time
8. Face Your Demons
9. The Space Between
10. Powers That Be