"Crystal Eye"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Vengeance has a couple of things in common with Motorhead. One, they've been playing the hard stuff for 30 years, if not more. Two, they play rock n' roll. Both are reasons to be proud.

These Dutchmen will never win any year end poll or get kudos for blazing an original musical trail. But that's not what they are aiming for...they belt out crunchy good time heavy metal with a commercial touch and fhey do it better than most bands with half their lifespan. "Crystal Eye" is their latest and they deliver again. Fans of AC/DC, Saxon, Whitesnake, Accept and more should make themselves aware of Vengeance. In fact, former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade pounds the skins here and I do mean POUND! Big, booming drum sound, just the way I like it. No triggered crap for these boys. The album kicks off with an energetic and rowdy "Me And You" and that sets the tone right away. Singer Leon Gouwie has been captain of the Vengeance ship since Day One and sounds like a more melodic Bon Scott.

Songs like "Bad To The Bone", "Desperate Women" and "Shock Me Now" are about as original as their names indicate, but with this kind of material, sincerity and energy are all that matter and Vengeance has that in spades. The title track is something quite different for them...a very serious epic sounding tune with keyboard accompaniment written by Ayreon's Arjen Lucasson (who was once the guitarist for Vengeance). It's an interesting experiment. On the other end of the scale, we have "Barbecue", a goofy, upbeat and very simple rocking tune. The power ballads are here, too, cliched as you would expect and featuring sweet guitar soloing...I prefer the heavier "Promise Me" over the more acoustic "Missing".
The album's real show-stopper, though, is the screaming track "Whole Lotta Metal", which was written by none other than Tony Martin. "Crystal Eye" is something of an all-star jam.

The album ends with a brief guitar solo "Jan's Last Piece"...very poignant, considering it was some of former guitarist Jan Summers last work before tragically passing away. Maybe the best testament to Jan is that the band he was such an active member of is still rocking like hell 30 years on...