Vendetta: self-titled (CD, 33:55); independent release, 1998 Vendetta P.O.Box 2291 Montebello, CA 90640 Phone: 213 833-0455 E-mail: Info@vendettarocks.com Cyberhome: http://www.vendettarocks.com Well this is nigh unto progressive metal rock but leans more towards metal rock in that Queensryche or Savatage vein. Guitars and synth unison parts lean close to prog metal but vocals and song compositions fall short of a solid progressive niche. Even the ballads are but slower versions of middle-of-the-road shred rock. Touching, hearfelt, working-through-loss lyrics but not progressive nor fusion. On "Out of the Streets" I heard that typical David Chastain or Leather sound with decent guitar chops and synth riffs. All parts were pulled off slickly and Yngwie Malmsteen-heavy but nothing here made me think, "Wow, this is excellent." It is pure metal rock, guitar and key-driven rock with standard metal band vocals. Jeff Thompson's voice is quite strong but not singularly unique -- alas, styled as so many, many other lead vocalists. To make a big splash in this dog-eat-dog industry you need to break preset boundaries and mindsets. Pretty rock ballads, nice keys, poignant guitar leads, steady bass and drums -- and yes, operatic, affected passionate vocals are all here in Vendetta full force but . . . It lends itself quickly to that slot that hundreds of similar bands have already trodden under foot. Only the final 7:30 instrumental track, "Hence the Choice", made my ears at last perk up and take extra notice. In my humble, having-heard-a-zillion songs, opinion -- this direction is where Vendetta should focus. The interplay among all musicians was tighter and more interesting. This piece's structure held interest and built an expectant tension level nicely. Changeups were frequent, the midsong synth work was phat cool and the brief Middle-Eastern/ragaesque motif was a breath of progressive fresh air. Thompson could have added a reverby, Muslim-in-the- minaret-tall "call to prayer" here easily. Imagine that guys. If Vendetta had syncopated this section a bit and sped things up with some near-fusion riffs and polyrhythmic touches it could have come off as a real smoker! Maybe next time guys -- a new sound? "Afterthoughts" (a reviewer's suggestions): Vendetta, stretch more and feel the trip of freakin' out some. Go for the untested waters! Break outta the rock rut and punch through into some Holdsworthian/Jens Johansson fusion, or spacey riff-rock like Captain Beyond, or try the Cynic thing but without experimenting with the lame "cookie monster" vocals. I'd even settle for speed-Prong crossed with The Obsessed's angst. Revamp, revise, record, and make yer mark. Being good isn't enough anymore -- ya gotta burn with an alien flame. Rise above everyman's rock. You owe it to yourself to grow past the norm. I hear your potential. So cut loose. I'll shut up now. ~ John W. Patterson
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