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Flash Metal Suicide: Vengeance

This week: dive-bombing guitar solos and nonsensical sex metaphors courtesy of Dutch shredders Vengeance, and their third album Take It Or Leave It

"When I was born/They threw me outside" - Code of Honour

Committing Flash Metal Suicide in the US in 1987 was easy, man. Everybody was doing it. Biting the spandex bullet in Holland, tho? That took pros. That took the high-flying party metal Dutchmen known collectively as Vengeance.  I know, you don’t remember Vengeance. Despite being on Columbia records in the US and having a would-be single, the amazingly titled Rock N’ Roll Shower force-fed to stateside rock radio, folks ‘round these parts just couldn’t cotton to Vengeance. I dunno why, really, because they were state-of-the-art arena metal. Maybe it was because of their exotic-sounding names. Arjen Lucassen is not a guitar-hero handle. Course, neither was Yngwie Malmsteen, and it worked for him. 

Anyway, Vengeance was formed when Lucassen left Accept-like proto-power metal weirdos Bodine and hooked up with afro-ed howler Leon Goewie and a bunch of similarly named cats. They got signed five minutes after their first gig (or so the legend goes) to CBS Holland, which was just as good as the real CBS, only much smaller. They released their first, self-titled record in ’84, and gained a healthy home-bound following. Two years later, they followed it up with the awesomely named We Have Ways of Making You Rock, and although they had yet to break out of Euro-star status, CBSH licensed out the next one, Take it Or Leave It to Columbia, which is the first time you or me (well, ok, just me) ever heard them 

The Vengeance sound was heavy, melodic, Thin Lizzy-esque hard rock mixed with pyrotechnic flash metal. It was big. Matter of fact, the production on Take It, by one John Sonneveld, rivals EZO for sheer excess. It’s crazy how loud this record is. Not that it helped all that much.  The title track cracks thing open with a whole buncha skittering noises and evil laughter, followed by a propulsive, mountainous flash metal riff, followed by a rousing chorus, dive-bombing guitar solo, and nonsensical cards/sex metaphors (“You name the price, I deal the cards/The winner takes it all/But don’t be surprised if I call the guards”). Killer, really.  Code of Honour is more snarly flash, with a rippin’ Skid Row riff and Halford-esque vox, but the first sign of trouble creeps in on the chorus, when they drag in a choir full of kids. I hate when they drag in the fuckin’ kids. It’s got big ol’ skull-crushing drums, though. 

Rock and Roll Shower is the highlight, of that there is no doubt. I mean, this has gotta be most ridiculous attempt at a flash metal superhit ever. Dig this — the first line  really is “Went to a party on a Saturday night”. Swear to Christ. I think even Lita Ford was joking when she wrote the same line for that “didn’t get laid” song. Not Vengeance, tho. Vengeance mean it, man. “The girls were pretty, but the band wasn’t right”, Leon laments, so he grabs the mic and proceeds to give all the hearty-party people a “Rock and Roll Shower!” They use a Vocoder or whatever you call that Peter Frampton sound, on the chorus. And they cop Lizzy’s Chinatown for the solo. All that’s ok, but what the  fuck is a rock n’ roll shower? Have I ever had one? Have you? Crazy Dutchmen. 

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