Vanize - Raw 3/5

Reviewed: 6-16-06


1. Gods of revenge
2. Way down
3. Back to the gutter
4. Land of desire
5. Devil
6. The calling
7. I will survive
8. Exception to the rule
9. Eat u alive
10. One step to madness
11. Practice what you preach

For nearly 3 decades, Udo Dirkschneider has carved out a crimson career as the gruff-voiced diminutive drill sergeant of Accept and his oddly acronymed U.D.O. outfit. Unbeknownst to all but a few hardy headbangers, Udo has a younger brother, Peter, who is also a gravel-throated heavy metal singer. Although he's never quite emerged from his famous sibling's shadow, Peter is a veritable chip off the old block, and has constructed a sturdy resume of his own fronting Vanize. Treading the same musical ground as Accept, Gravestone, mid-tempo Paragon and, especially, Unrest (who were themselves heavily influenced by Accept), Vanize created a cult classic in the brats'n'beer, denim'n'leather style with 2000's 'High proof', then promptly dropped off the face of the Earth. Different Vanize alumni cropped up in other projects (i.e., Majesty) from time to time, but Peter himself disappeared. I had long assumed that Vanize was defunct, so imagine my surprise when a friend of Metal CD Ratings mailed me a promotional CD-R of 'Raw', an apparently new 2006 Vanize release on the heretofore unknown Mystic Empire Records. I've never seen it for sale or even reviewed anywhere, and the CD-R unfortunately bears a few skips. Nonetheless, I was most grateful to have an opportunity to hear what Peter's up to with his entirely revamped Vanize line-up, which appears to consist of all new band members.

After spending some time with 'Raw', I can confidently say that fans of Vanize's previous works, and of the Accept/Unrest Teutonic bulldozer stomping style in general, will not be disappointed. But they're unlikely to be enraptured, either. All of the time-honored genre staples are here, from the solid riffing to the gruff-but-tuneful vocals (highly reminiscent of Udo, Sanke Lau of Unrest, and Frank Knight of X-Wild) to the simple shouted choruses to the Wolf Hoffman/Matthias Dieth-inspired leadwork. A couple of tracks, including the storming opener "Gods of revenge" and the relentless "I will survive", rank among Vanize's finest output ever, and are worth the price of admission. Unfortunately, things bog down on some of the other tracks, where the stock, recycled riffs and overly redundant choruses veer perilously close to boredom, particularly in the 2nd half of the CD. Also, the CD title, 'Raw', is a misnomer, as this CD sounds smoother and slicker than previous Vanize recordings. Even Peter's glass-gargling voice has been buffed and polished to minimize the rough edges. Rather than divebombing and attacking, the guitars seem restrained and almost tame. And there are even electronic bits infiltrating the otherwise staunchly traditional German metal soundscape here and there.

At the end of the day, my reaction to 'Raw' is very similar to that of recent U.D.O. CDs. It's predictable, it's cliched, and it's a tad short on inspiration, but it's also a fun, competent, and enjoyable listen. This kind of CD was not made for pretentious music critics and would-be metal journalists. It was made for the graying true believers whose idea of a good time on a Friday night is to pop the cap on a Bitburger and crank the 'Balls to the wall' LP until well after the witching hour. I happen to fall into that category myself, so 'Raw' is fine by me. And if I ever find it for sale anywhere (perhaps as one of Sentinel Steel's famous "warehouse finds"?), I'll be first in line to replace the CD-R with the genuine article. Just don't expect the second coming of 'Timebomb' or even 'High proof'.




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