|Review: Vardis - Vigilante|
Label: Hoplite Records
Year released: 2014
Originally released in: 1986
Genre: Metal/Hard Rock
Review online: June 18, 2014
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Rated 3.75/5 (75%) (4 Votes)
Many fans of the NWOBHM will recognize the name Vardis if for no other reason than they were one of the two dozen bands included on Lars Ulrich's New Wave of British Heavy Metal/'79 Revisited compilation with the song "If I Were King". Unlike many bands from that time, Vardis managed four full-length albums, along with many EPs and singles, over their relatively short existence. Now, like many of their contemporaries, Vardis are getting back together to give it another try. Their re-introduction to the music world comes via a newly remastered version of their 1986 album, Vigilante. With a pedigree like that, I felt no hesitation about reviewing this album but I'm going to tell you right up front; Vigilante is barely Heavy Metal and Vigilante bears little resemblance to the band's early material.
In Vigilante's liner notes, guitarist/vocalist Steve Zodiac mentions how the band was let down by the music business back in 1986 but I can only imagine, as a fan, how the album must have been a let down. When I listen to early Vardis, I hear the loose, fast and hungry sounds of the NWOBHM. When I listen to Vigilante, I hear stuff that reminds me more of Ted Nugent or Billy Squier. Sure, the old fire can be heard on tracks like "Running (Beyond the Threshold of Pain)" or "Radio Active (Feel It)" but even these tracks are glossy, mid-paced and more radio-friendly than they are Heavy Metal anthems. The rest of Vigilante is full of blues-based Hard Rock with only hints of the band's Heavy Metal/Punk roots. Vardis was clearly moving away from their original Heavy Metal sound back in 1986. It is certainly well played and as a Hard Rock album, it isn't bad, though rather generic. As a Heavy Metal album, it offers very little.
Vardis are said to be working on new music and the hope here is that they'll go back to "If I Were King" and the like. Otherwise, we'll get something like the recent albums from Gaskin or Gallow's Pole and while that's the band's call, it ain't Metal.
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