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Melodic Rock Round-up: May 2013

Album Review

Dave Ling on new releases from Vega, N.O.W., BB Steal, Moritz and Stryper

Vega: What The Hell!

With an uncontrollable weakness for stepping outside of the genre’s comfort zone, their defiantly short hair and a falsely perceived arrogance, Britain’s Vega haven’t made life easy for themselves. Referring to the U2, Billy Idol-flair that made their 2010 debut Kiss Of Life such a breath of fresh air, singer Nick Workman recently quipped to Classic Rock Presents AOR: “Meat and three veg is all well and good, but sometimes you need an aubergine for variety.” In addition to anthems such as Cry, Raise Ya Game and the future crowd favourite Hands In The Air, What The Hell! boasts more delicacies than Spitalfields Market. Its highlight is White Knuckle Ride, a song that Joe Elliott believes would have been a hit 20 years ago, when rock music still made the charts. The Def Leppard man heard the album’s demos and gave Vega his advice, and the results have paid off handsomely. WTH! is an exciting, vibrant record that validates every ounce of Vega’s self-belief. Go buy a copy – it’s the aural equivalent of your Five A Day. (9/10)

N.O.W.: Bohemian Kingdom

The second album from N.O.W., formed by Brazilian bassist Alec Mendonça and keyboard player Jean Barros, again stars Philip Bardowell (Unruly Child, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, The Beach Boys) on vocals. Darker but no less slick-sounding than their 2010 debut Force Of Nature, Bohemian Kingdom is recommended for fans of Foreigner. (7/10)

BB Steal: Resurrection

BB steal were branded as Def Leppard’s little brothers thanks to On The Edge, a major-label 1991 debut that was co-produced by that same band’s guitarist Phil Collen. This little-known follow-up, first released back in 2006 but now re-promoted, sees the Aussies delving into territory that’s somewhat darker, a good deal more sedate and, to be brutally frank, far less appealing. (5/10)

Moritz: SOS

Ending decades apart, the UK’s Moritz defied the odds to reunite in 2010, releasing that year’s critically praised Undivided. Characterised by Hide My Heart, Amber Lee and the obligatory power ballad Mercury Falling, SOS offers more of the same – crisp, pure AOR with punchy choruses and strong harmonies, performed by a band almost audibly pinching itself at receiving a second chance. (8/10)

Stryper: Second Coming

Spandex-clad Christian glam-rockers Stryper are the latest band to re-record their back catalogue, harnessing modern technology to enhance material from their first three (all mid-80s) albums. These revised versions are certainly good and meaty, although whether or not you’re prepared to embrace them as replacements will depend on your emotional attachment to the originals. (7/10)

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