After off the grid, it's finally time for Adrian Vandenberg to take off the reigns and let rip.
After 35 years, Whitesnake, Moonkings and legal battles to use his own name, Adrian Vanbenburg has picked off from where it all started. As a band,Vandenburg teetered on the edges of success in the early 80s and their albums spawned hits such as Different World and Burning Heart. Even through the songwriting stood up, their sound wasn't cutting edge and unique enough to really break through and after three albums and the usual band politics they called it a day.
Recharged by a new line up which includes Rainbow front man Ronnie Romero, Vandenburg has set about making the kind of music he really wanted to. From the get go, Shadows of the Night shows us the direction of the album is heading - this is very much a new spin on a traditional formula. Even though there's a welcome familiarity to the bold riffs and the immediacy of the choruses the big surprise is Vandenburg's guitar work.
Vandenburg takes the opportunity to layer the songs with a heavier sound and drip in the odd quasi classical run too. There's been hint's at his love for a beefed up sound in his writing before, but there's never been the right outlet to really crank things up. On this album we get the whole gambit from the ravenous to the mellow. It's perhaps a reminder of his status as an underrated rock guitarist who never quite got the recognition as a musician and writer that he deserved. Hell and High Water and Let It Rain are perhaps the album's strongest examples of Vandenburg's ability to fuse together styles and sounds.
It's not only the songwriting and production that make the album a hybrid, Ronnie Romero's vocal style is a composite of Coverdale and Dio, but his expression and passion are the glue that binds this rebooted project together. Romero's ability to tackle the light and the shade on tracks like Skyfall, rather than just steamroller his way through, gives the band more opportunity to play around.
Seamlessly tucked away at the end of the album is a new recording of Burning Heart that not only bridges the gap between the old and the new it breathes new life into a rock ballad that clearly has stood the test of time.
While Vandenberg 2020 may not be a total surprise with some joyous air-punching classic rock tropes, it's harder and more souped-up than you'd expect. A welcome return.
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