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Vandallus - 4

by Mark Machlay at 04 January 2022, 6:02 AM

VANDALLUS is another band from the vibrant, yet mostly underground, hard rock and heavy metal city of Cleveland Ohio. The band started in 2015 with vocalist and guitarist Jason Vanek getting a little help from friends in other bands from the Cleveland underground, including guitarist and vocalist Shaun Vanek and drummer Steve Dukuslow from MIDNIGHT, with Tyler Harvey from DEADIRON on guitar and Tim Frederick from bands WRETCH, ETERNAL LEGACY, and DESTRUCTOR on bass. They released their first self-titled three-track EP that same year and followed it up the next year with their debut full-length “On The High Side” on High Roller Records. Featuring a few songs written by MIDNIGHT boss Jamie Walters, the sound on that debut was direct and a sort of old school sound and according to main man CrazyV is filled with “just straight forward old school hard rock without the BS”. It was mastered by Arnie Acosta of Santa Monica Mastering who worked on many of albums of the time including artists such as THIN LIZZY, U2, and PETER FRAMPTON. They would release their follow-up “Bad Disease” in 2018 and third album “Outbreak” came quickly on its heels in 2019.

Now, VANDALUS has returned with their 4th classically driven album “4” released this past September 13. The band has a great desire to play live and due to the pandemic lockdowns, going forward was very difficult for the band. They admit, “We are just getting back into the mix of things and to start, we are planning a really cool private concert at our studio that we are going to record and most likely make a music video.” The album was recorded at the band’s own Mercinary Studios based in Avon, OH with the help of CrazyV’s studio partner Noah Buchanan. CrazyV adds, “I produced the album and mixed it and had it mastered at an analog studio in Sweden. The entire process took a couple of weeks to complete. I was highly inspired and focused, so we were able to knock it out fast.” Expect many more albums from VANDALUS now that the band can record pretty much whenever they want in their own studio and are eager to start getting out and playing their music live in an attempt to influence a younger generation into the power and influence of 80’s hard rock and metal.

First of all, VANDALUS have capture that sound of the 70s and 80s – the warmth of the vinyl, the roundness to the snares, and that perfect fuzzed out guitar sound – that I nearly believed “4” was a reissue of a record made back in that time period. Working with analog gear certainly helps but when I heard the single “Motor High City” I couldn’t tell if it was a lost LYNYRD SKYNYRD with a gruffer David Coverdale-like singer track or if there was some band I just wasn’t familiar with that seemed to slip through the cracks. If you think I’m exaggerating or blowing smoke up your ass regarding CrazyV’s vocal prowess, just check out the highs he achieves in “Livin For the Season” with a crazy vibrato that I’ll bet he has full control over. They certainly veer more into IRON MAIDEN-like BWOBHM with the hard driving “Parasite”, full of energy and attitude. But the album it starts off, strangely in more of BLUE OYSTER CULT style song with “Short Fuse Groove” which immediately gave an impression of the band that was different, thinking them an almost blues-based copy of the aforementioned band. As you can see, the specific style is a bit uneven over the entirety of the album, but they so embody that late 70s, early 80s aesthetic that it’s amazing to hear them turn on a dime stylistically and they still embody that sound.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Short Fuse Groove
2. Brainwashed
3. Motor High City (Album Version)
4. Livin for the Season
5. Radio Love Train
6. Parasite
7. Drowning
8. Nobody’s Safe
9. Slave
Jason Vanek (CrazyV) – Lyrics/Vocals
Shaun Vanek – Guitars, Synth, Piano & Percussion
Tim Fredrick – Bass
Jesse Stown – Drums
Record Label: Mercinary Records


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