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'Crystal Eye'
(Steamhammer/SPV Records)

Johnny Main

johnny main

The Dutch Metal band have been around for over thirty years and return not only with a new album but also one that features a new star-studded line up to support original Vengeance singer, Leon Goewie.

vengeance crystal eye

What you have here, very simply put, are eleven easily accessible and thoroughly enjoyable slabs of hard rock. New drummer Chris Slade (ex-The Firm and AC/DC) opens things up with a solid backbeat before guitarist Keri Kelli (ex-Alice Cooper) wades in with a punchy riff, and before you know it, 'Me And You' is in full flow with it's simple but catchy chorus – a great start to the album.

Kelli kicks off 'Bad To The Bone' with a fantastically strong riff which cuts off fairly quickly to make way for Goewie's vocals which have a distinctly Rob Halford feel about them. That's not a criticism at all by the way, as the vocals throughout the album are excellent.

'Bad To The Bone' is a more mid-paced track, but hangs in there with another catchy chorus. Following hot on its heels, is 'Barbeque' which has a solid throbbing bass line from Chris Glen (ex-Michael Schenker Group) holding the track together and an articulate guitar solo.

'Shock Me Now' opens up with a great guitar riff which falls into a simmering in the background before ending up with a truly accomplished solo for this strong, mid-paced track. Moving on, the expected torrent of innuendo in a song called 'Five Knuckle Shuffle' is missing with the band producing one of the slower tracks on the album whilst still managing to maintain a heavy groove which turns this into one of the standout tracks on the album for me.

'Five Knuckle Shuffle' has another great solo from Kelli, whilst Slade gives his drum kit a good workout too. A spoken intro takes us into 'Desperate Women' which has a sound reminiscent of some early Motley Crue tracks with its big chords, but again, it's a song that doesn't disappoint. Kelli comes up trumps again with a couple of excellent (if fairly short) guitar breaks and the easy sing-a-long nature of the chorus makes this another catchy song.

'Whole Lotta Metal' picks up the pace again with a frantic display from Slade backed up with more big power chords from Kelli. Goewie is on form vocally, practically spitting out the lyrics, and at times sounding like he's having trouble keeping up with the music!

The backing vocals on the chorus may be a simple up-scale progression, but this could surely be used to great effect in a live gig. 'Promise Me' is the album's ballad – soft electric guitars, slow plodding song, subtle percussion – it's all here but this doesn't detract from the truly heartfelt vocals. Kelli produces some textbook guitar breaks and she produces yet another outstandingly produced solo.

One could be forgiven for wondering that if this was written and released as a single in the early 1990s (when the power ballad was arguably king) – how far up the charts would 'Promise Me' have travelled? I get the feeling that the answer would be quite near the top of the charts.

The title track, 'Crystal Eye' starts off with an almost medieval sound before becoming a full-on Metal track with killer drums, soaring guitar solo and rasping vocals. A solid song and well deserving of being the title track. 'Missing' is another slow track with mournful vocals about a lost relationship, and before you know it, the album's almost done.

The last track itself is an instrumental called 'Jan's End Piece'. This was collated from some solos performed by original Vengeance member Jan Somers, who died suddenly on 28 January 2011 aged only 46 and serves simply as a tribute from one friend to another. A fitting tribute to a great guitar player, and certainly a very nice way to end a great album.

Available in a standard CD or Digipak CD

Tracklist (Digipak):

Me And You
Bad To The Bone
Shock Me Now
Five Knuckle Shuffle
Desperate Women
Whole Lotta Metal
Promise Me
Crystal Eye
Jans End Piece

Band Members:

Leon Goewie – Vocals
Keri Kelli - Guitar
Chris Glen – Bass
Chris Slade – Drums



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