Vendetta (U.K.) - Tyranny of minority 3.5/5

Reviewed: 2-8-08


1. Archangel
2. Generation kill
3. I executioner
4. Transcendence part I (Doorways of the mind)
5. Golden boy
6. Red skies
7. Plastic god
8. Bones to dust
9. Lost cause
10. All fall down
11. No safe hole
12. Transcendence part II (Window of the soul)

Snap judgments can be exceedingly ill advised at times. When I first became aware of 'Tyranny of minority' by the U.K.'s Vendetta, my initial impressions were not at all favorable. After all, the band name isn't exactly original. Even leaving aside the well-known 80s German thrashers Vendetta, a quick scan of Metal-Archives reveals at least 5 other bands that use or have used the Vendetta sobriquet. Then there's the fact that 'Tyranny of minority' was released on the decidedly hit-and-miss Lion Music label. (Don't get me wrong: Lion releases high-quality product in its niche genre, just not in my niche genre.) Finally, it appears that this Vendetta is a creative vehicle for Edward Box, a guitarist who has recorded several solo guitar hero-type instrumental CDs and is now turning to traditional metal and taking over the microphone as well. This somewhat dubious premise does not inspire confidence. Although it seemed this CD had 3 strikes against it before I had ever heard a note of it, I boldly purchased a copy based on some favorable comments from people I trust.

I'm glad that I did, as 'Tyranny of minority' is a charming and highly enjoyable piece of work. Blazing power metal it ain't, so those who require bundles of speed, epic song structures and overblown lyrical concepts in their music should move along. Instead these Newcastle metallers deliver a song-oriented CD with straightforward, anthemic, mostly midtempo songs. The sound and vibe are rooted firmly in the 80s, influenced by both the NWOBHM movement and better hard rock/hair metal of the period. In fact, the 2 comparison bands that continually came to mind while listening to this CD are Saxon (both old and new flavors) and Dokken circa their awesome 'Back for the attack' opus from 1987. The sturdy, rocking riffs are highly reminiscent of Biff Byford's brummies, while the lead vocals, the harmony choirs, and the flashy guitar solos all have that 'Back for the attack' feel. It's an interesting and fresh combination, particularly given that so few bands have successfully captured that classic Dokken sound. To nail that style as effectively as Vendetta do, and then meld it with a full helping of NWOBHM bravado, is impressive and somewhat unique in today's crowded metal scene. It could be argued that Icarus Witch are somewhere in the same stylistic ballpark, but they're really approaching the art form from a different angle than Box and friends.

Of course, playing a worthwhile style would amount to exactly nothing without strong songs to back it up. Fortunately, Box shows himself to be a strong writer. Heavier, peppier cuts like "Bones to dust" and "Generation kill" are particularly compelling, but even the more laid-back, radio-friendly fare like "Red skies" and "All fall down" find the target as well. There are no true ballads and no instrumentals, other than the brief intro. Of the 11 proper tracks on display, only "Golden boy" misses the mark, being a bit too flaccid and glammy for its own good. In general, these are the kind of well-crafted songs that were made for driving around town on a hot summer day with the windows rolled down and the stereo blasting. The hooks are big, obvious, and fun. The musicianship and production are top-notch. This 'Tyranny of minority' is easy to listen to and easy to enjoy.

That said, I get the distinct impression that the younger generation of metal fans may have a hard time relating to this music. Vendetta are perhaps a bit too old-fashioned, too quaint, too linear in their songwriting values for today's ritalin-popping, ADD metalheads. But for those of us old fogies who cut our teeth on the likes of Saxon and Dokken, 'Tyranny of minority' is a welcome release indeed, hearkening back to a simpler time and offering basic, rootsy melodic heavy metal played with heart, style and class.




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