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Vanguard - Vangaurd (Reissue)

by Kevin Lewis at 13 July 2021, 4:44 PM

VANGUARD was a Swedish band active from 1982-1988. Their self-titled album was released in 1985 and is recently re-issued by Cult Metal Classics records. Considered by many to be a late comer to the NWOBHM (and not from Britain), VANGUARD fit the style of that era. Using two guitarists was a signature move at that time. Adding a keyboard player was really the only difference. Metal bands used keyboards, but didn’t always credit the player or put them on stage at the shows.

The record definitely sounds like it is straight out of the 80s. Starting with “Scare For The Future,” the tones, tempo and production scream mid-80s. The vocals sound a bit distant and hollow. The production does not sound like it has been updated, meaning this is a simple re-issue, not a re-mastering. Since the band no longer exists, this is not a surprise.

Track two is the requisite song about the music genre itself. The H.M. in “H.M. Paradise” is short for Heavy Metal. Like many bands of the era, they have to remind you they play heavy metal. If it weren’t for the bombastic drums anchoring the rhythm section, this could easily fall back into the hard rock realm. Checking out the bands picture could give the impression they are closer to glam or hair metal.

Beast On The Run” and “Lady Of Madness” are heavier songs that do lean into the metal arena, despite not having the prolific guitar work of some of their NWOBHM compatriots. Part of the reason for this difference is the heavy reliance on the keyboards. The guitars do a lot of work and there are solos, but not like you hear in JUDAS PRIEST or IRON MAIDEN.

One of the strange things about this record is that the shortest song is almost six and a half minutes. The longest is over 17 minutes. None of these songs is radio friendly without a major edit. There are prog metal bands working to get songs this long without wandering off topic. The lyrical topics also fit more into glam or rock songs.

The rhythms get too close to pop at times. The cover of THE ARCHIESSugar, Sugar” is completely out of balance in the production. It sounds like it was recorded live on a tape recorder at times. The song really just doesn’t work that well in any sense. It was a good try, but just didn’t hit the mark. This is not a horrible album, but should have stayed in the 80s. Without a reunion to promote this and some additional re-mastering, this is just a re-issue of a mostly forgotten band that is meant to feel nostalgic to their fanbase.

Songwriting:  6
Musicianship:  6
Memorability:  5
Production:  5

3 Star Rating

1. Scare for The Future
2. H.M. Paradise
3. Beast on The Run
4. Lady of Madness
5. All Night Long
6. Crime of Passion
7. Searching
8. Sugar, Sugar
Raffe Wernborg – Vocals
Mikke Andersson – Bass
Lubbe Johansson – Drums
Sverka Wernborg – Guitar
Stefan Rosell – Guitar
Per-Anders Forsén – Keyboards
Record Label: Cult Metal Classics


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