3/6/2009 - Review by: Eric Compton
Way back in 2003 Maximum Metal ran an early issue of "Where Are You" for Vengeance singer Leon Goewie. At the time the talented singer was nowhere to be found. Beyond that, the band he cut his teeth with, Holland's Vengeance, had seemingly disappeared off of Planet E after four successful hard rock albums for CBS in the late 80s an early 90s. That column was very successful and led to hundreds of visits from metal fans asking the same questions we were.
In 2006 Goewie and Vengeance got "Back In The Ring" with a new album that delivered the Vengeance trademark sound. For new fans who may not be familiar with this great group of musicians, I would describe the band as a cross of Van Halen, Krokus, and the very best in German hard rock tactics (Accept, Sinner, Victory). That album was a success and launched the band into a full comeback career that featured tours the world over and eventually back into the studio again in 2008 with "Soul Collector".
This album was produced by Mad Max's Michael Voss (producer of "Back In The Ring") and features a top notch production job that is full of fat drum sounds and a fairly loose job on the strings. This leaves a sound that is quite boisterous while still remaining lively and bluesy. A new round of musicians have joined the fray including Jan and Timo Somers, as well as new skinsman Erik Stout.
"Soul Collector" is basically a sub-par effort in my opinion once you get down to the basics of each song. The album has weak numbers like "What The Hell Is Going On" and "Myspace Freak" and even weaker moments like "I Never Felt That Way Before" and "Dance Dance Dance". These songs are either just simple bluesy numbers or the dreaded AOR friendly cuts that see Vengeance becoming more like Mad Max, Bonfire, and Shakra than the attitude heavy band that rocked nations with albums like "Take It Or Leave It". These songs are still entertaining once or twice with the top down on a summer drive, but over time these types of songs are just too bland and generic for my taste. However, this album still has some punch with the awesome atmospheric opener "Cross In The Rain" and the epic Maiden-esque "Samurai", which features one of Goewie's best vocal performances of his career. "Wait Until The Sun Goes Down" is a classic cut that really showcases the Vengeance sound of old. A guilty pleasure for me is the entertaining rocker "Soul Collector" which rapes Megadeth's "Symphony Of Destruction" riff.
Vengeance is back again and that's good news. With it comes two-thirds of an album that is fairly useless and a third of an album that shows the Vengeance of old and some of Goewie's best vocals. If you are a band fan like me then you probably need to hear the record to decide for yourself. If you are an Itunes user I would pay the .99 for the positive cuts that I mentioned above and maybe throw in another .99 for a few of the bad ones to make your decision. If you dig it, buy it and support the band. These are old workhorses that may not be around for long.
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