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Sonic Haven – Vagabond

Sonic Haven
by Paul LaPlaca at 01 August 2021, 7:56 AM

“Vagabond” bursts out with the title track, a hyper-speed romp that immediately brings to mind a host of potential influences, most immediately Yngwie, Deep Purple, and Symphony X. Vocalist Herbie Langhans can hit some glass-breakers but for the most part sticks with a raspy high tenor that is reminiscent of Ian Gillan only ballsier.

“Back To Mad”  starts with a familiar synth arpeggio pattern that brings to mind STYX and other 70’s proggers but make no mistake this is a thoroughly modern vibe. They do something really unique here, going into the chorus. I’m not sure if it’s a full key change but the effect is an almost, super-major, uplifting chorus. They employ this a few times throughout the album and it gives the hooks and infectious, added dimension that is incredibly memorable. Other influences start peaking through, I’m feeling a bit of CRIMSON GLORY and QUEENSRYCHE  here but with a more upbeat and poppy sound. Guitarist Carsten Stepanowicz breaks out a smooth harmony guitar lead full of chops and technique as well as a great command of melody and theory. Production is ultra-glossy and highly polished but it can be slightly fatiguing and claustrophobic at times.

“Nightmares” follows a similar pattern as the previous two tracks with a driving verse and a super-chorus complimented by a sweet harmony guitar solo. By the 4th track, “Keep The Flame Alive” the songwriting starts to feel a little predictable and we start moving from what started as proggy towards hair metal. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you like big, happy, hooks.

“The Darker Side” is exactly that, a little more somber than  the other tracks this one features rich, low harmonies over a plodding, persistent beat. The heavy hook in the chorus is still there and packs a punch. Which brings us to the horribly cringe-inducing, “Save The Best For Last” a power ballad that would be perfect for STEEL PANTHER if it only had sexually explicit lyrics. I mean it’s a really GOOD power ballad but oddly out of date and out of place on this album.

They return to form for the rest of the album, ending strong on “Striking Back” with a huge anthemic chorus. SONIC HAVEN delivers a very well-written album that is meticulously mixed and produced. “Vagabond” straddles the line between prog and power metal with hints of 80’s hard rock. It should appeal to any fans of great musicianship without an overabundance of instrumental sections. The hooks and choruses are strong and should also attract fans of modern, melodic rock.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Vagabond
2. Back To Mad
3. Nightmares
4. Keep The Flame Alive
5. End Of The World
6. The Darker Side
7. I Believe
8. Save The Best For Last
9. Blind The Enemy
10. From White To Black
11. Striking Back
Herbie Langhans – Vocals
Carsten Stepanowicz – Guitar
Dominik Stotzem – Bass
André Hilgers – Drums
Record Label: Frontiers Music


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Edited 21 September 2021

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