Album review: VEGA – Stereo Messiah

Vega - Stereo Messiah

Frontiers Records [Release date 17.10.14]

As one of the great hopes of British melodic rock Vega have not left the grass grow under their feet, this being their third album in under four years. It sees only minor tweaks to what has now become a distinctive sound that they have honed to a fine art, attempting to make melodic rock with a modern twist and avoid some of the visual and musical clichés associated with the genre.

While the big choruses and song structures – courtesy of the Martin brothers Tom and James- are blatantly commercial it is wrapped up in a modern production with electronic trickery to the fore and an added slice of the widescreen feel of a U2. Strangely though for an album you might expect to be an instant fix, it took a couple of listens to know and love the songs.

Nick Workman’s singing has a confident swagger to it epitomised on the big, bold chorus of the opening title track. The following song, ‘All Or Nothing’ appears very keyboard driven yet also has an excellent guitar solo from Marcus Thurston, while ‘Wherever We Are’ and ‘Gonna Need Some Love Tonight’ have massive choruses and ‘Ballad of the Broken Hearted’ had me thinking this was what Muse would sound like if they had AOR influences.

‘Neon Heart’ is another with a massive ‘what about love’ chorus while ‘With Both Hands’ is another keyboards-y number where the chorus is less strong but some ‘who-oah’ chanting gives the song another memorable hook.

It also features a collaboration with Joe Elliott, yet even though Def Leppard are a clear influence, his song ‘10x Better Than Love’ comes over as too much of a Def Lep pastiche and is one of the weaker tracks on view.

At a point where the album is in danger of becoming repetitive and samey, set closer ‘Tears Never Dry’, about a war widow, is a marvellously haunting yet anthemic mid tempo tune to finish the album.

There has to be a major health warning which is that this clinical style is not likely to be to every classic rock fan’s taste, and anyone looking for the warm comfort of traditional blues-based riffery would be advised to steer clear.

Despite some well received headline tours Vega have yet to break into the big league but the strength of this material means that they are well placed to do so sooner rather than later if there is any justice. **** 1/2

Review by Andy Nathan

Interview (November 2014)




 

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