Frontiers [Release Date 13.05.16]
Standard bearers for a new breed of melodic rock that marries the big hooks of the genre’s heyday with more contemporary arrangements and production, Vega have stood the test of time, this being their fourth album in under six years.
Yet the deserved breakthrough into the big time has yet to really happen, which is perhaps why the band have attempted to shake off their anonymity with a striking album cover caricature.
Opening track ‘Explode’ certainly does that with Nick Workman’s ever confident vocals and a chorus that your old English teacher would have described as ‘onomatopoeic’. Meantime , ‘Every Little Monster’, is possibly the most commercial thing they have done to date, complete with ‘who-oahs’ on the chorus, while the sole ballad, ‘Nothing Is Forever’ has an almost Queen-esque grandiosity.
The album builds on their existing strengths and the Vega hallmarks are there from the positive rousing lyrical nature of ‘White Flag’ to the chiming, The Edge-like, guitar tones that give ‘Saving Grace’ and ‘Hurt So Bad’ a slight U2 feel.
However I notice a few tweaks to the formula. An outside producer in Harem Scarem’s Harry Hess has done a sterling job in stripping the sound back to an uncluttered production that brings out the melody of the Martin brothers’ songwriting and makes the choruses on the likes of ‘For Our Sins’ and ‘If Not You’ seem even bigger.
In their early days, guitar solos were seen as a tad old hat, but this time Marcus Thurston is given full scope for some fluid breaks, notably on ‘We Got it All’ that are a trademark of their live performance. In short, they have moved closer to the melodic rock mainstream.
Despite a couple of bland fillers like ‘Ignite‘, after a few listens I rate this at least on a par with 2014’s excellent ‘Stereo Messiah’. I live in hope that the strength of this album and tour opportunities – including with Magnum – will make Vega more of the household name they deserve to be. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
Gig review (May 2016)
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DARWIN Cosmic Rays (indie)
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12:00-13:00 WHITESNAKE Flesh & Blood (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 BUFORD POPE The Waiting Game (Unchained Records)
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