Monday, October 11, 2004

Review: Vagh - Into The Future Zone (2004)

Into The Future Zone

For some, the hard rock of the 1980s hold a very special place in their memories. The imagery of Tawny Kitean gyrating on the hood of a car to the sounds of lush keyboard riffs and restrained guitar licks is indeed both familiar and memorable. Fans of Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, and Journey listen up - the Swedish rockers Vagh share your love for this unforgettable era of rock and have dedicated themselves to bringing it back in exacting fashion. Founded by guitarist and keyboard player Robin Vagh as an expression of his love for AOR and melodic hard rock, the band released Into The Future Zone, their second album of '80s-style rock, earlier this year.

The album starts out on fire with the catchy "To Hell And Back Again". Robin lays down some searing riffs while guest guitarist David Persson kicks out quality leads and a stylish solo. Up-tempo and chock full of hooks, the lead-off track is by far the best song on the disc. Vocalist Jonas Blum has a somewhat gritty voice that generally fits, though at times he struggles and sounds at odds with the music. On the first two tracks he bears a slight similarity to Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe), but on tracks like "Calling On You" he sounds so out of place as to be distracting. Perhaps it's this inconsistency that prompted Robin Vagh to enlist the aid of John Marshall Gibbs and Noomi Str├ągefors to guest on two tracks each. Gibbs' first appearance, on "I Wanna Feel Love", has him performing his best David Coverdale impersonation but he ultimately falls short of the mark. On "Show Me Heaven Tonight", however, Gibbs shines as he emulates the grit and confidence of Jon Bon Jovi. For her part, Noomi displays promise in her tough girl, Pat Benatar sort of way. She struggles to remain on key when sustaining a note, but her potential is evident.

Vocal variety aside, apart from the lead-off track Into The Future Zone is a predictable album sticking to a tried and true formula. Though lacking in spontaneity, this album delivers everything you should expect from the genre - loads of hooks, catchy choruses, just the right amount of keyboard atmosphere, and a dash of guitar fire. Fans of the era, and melodic hard rock in general, will enjoy Vagh's new album.

Track Listing
1 To Hell And Back Again 4:17
2 Can't Reach You 3:34
3 I Wanna Feel Love 4:38
4 Love Touch 3:06
5 Show Me Heaven Tonight 4:30
6 Calling On You 3:33
7 Moment Of A Touch 4:39
8 Rebecca 3:55
9 Invincible 4:24
10 Don't Turn Away 4:31
11 This Feeling Inside 4:43
12 Future Zone 5:56

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