CD review VANDENBERG ‘2020’

First rumors of Adrian Vandenberg working on a new album started already months ago. At that time, thoughts were more towards a next album of Vandenberg’s Moonkings, a successful outfit the guitarists established over the last years. Also the band name Vandenberg was mentioned a few times and in the meantime the dust settled. The Dutch guitar virtuoso worked on a next longplayer of Vandenberg, the first one in years.

And if this wouldn’t have been good news enough, the next breaking news hit the media channels. Adrian Vandenberg teamed-up with no less than Ronnie Romero, one of the most talented voices in contemporary rock and metal. The singer showed his talented already an various previous bands and projects of which the live shows with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow were a highlight althogh he stood in the mighty shadow of the guitar legend.

With Vandenberg things are different. Both musicians meet on eye-level and benefit from each other. It feels like the 65 years old guitarist adds experience and dedication to the plate while Romero contributes with the power of youth and great vocals melodies. Supported by a hard-hitting rhythm section with Randy van der Elsen and Koen Herfst, the quartet recorded ten songs that belong to the best Purple/Whitesnake tunes the respective bands never wrote. Equipped with a perfect and organic sound Vandenberg gives classic rock a real revival.

The great thing is, that the band never feels like a copy of something. Vandenberg himself was an important factor in Whitesnake when the band had their hejdays in the second half of the often referred ’80s. It’s this sound that also comes back more than 30 years later on ‘2020’. Songs like the firing ‘Light Up the Sky’ and the following power ballad spreads the great vibe of a fromer time without sounding dusty or outdated. It’s just a pleasure to listen to these songs.

The uptempo opener ‘Shadow of the Night’, the unstoppable ‘Freight Train’ and the galopping ‘Ride Like the Wind’, each of these tracks is a little rock’n’roll pearl that shines brighter with every spin of the record. Just listen to ‘Hell or High Water’ and Romero’s vocals right in front of the solo part, sounding as if he would be the young version of Ronnie James Dio, a song where Rainbow meets Whitesnake.
The very rhythm-based closer ‘Skyfall’ is an ending of the album that comes far too early. Time flies while listening to this album, a record that doesn’t know a weak spot on the tracklist.

Vandenberg’s Moonkings was already a statement of the Dutch guitar hero that found again his passion for hard rocking music. With ‘2020’ the axeman from Den Haag unleashes a next masterpiece of his career, an album I haven’t expected to be that strong and powerful. The year 2020, with all the COVID-19 drama might not be the best year in human history. The album ‘2020’ though is one of the best classic rock / hard rock releases since years. Welkom terug Vandenberg.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Shadows of the Night
  2. Freight Train
  3. Hell or High Water
  4. Let it Rain
  5. Ride Like the Wind
  6. Shout
  7. Shitstorm
  8. Light Up the Sky
  9. Burning Heart
  10. Skyfall

Label: Mascot Records

Genre: Hard Rock

Release Date EU: May 29th, 2020

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