CD REVIEW: VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS – MK II

Label: Mascot Records

Release Date: November 3, 2017

Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

Vandenberg is a name that is not unknown to me.  From his days leading his own band to his tenure in Whitesnake during the late 1980’s Adrian’s guitar licks and solos have been ingrained in my musical database.  The latest release from his Vandenberg’s Moonkings project, aptly named MK II, brings more of those killer licks to light and helps bridge the decades of music he has released.  On first listen, disc opener “Tightrope” has a very familiar sound, as the rhythm and breakdowns are reminiscent of his days in Whitesnake from the bluesy leads and riffs to the vocal patterns that has vocalist Jan Hoving sounding a lot like Whitesnake’s David Coverdale.  “Reputation” picks up exactly where the previous track left off, but the rhythm section seems to hit harder and deeper, with bass lines that thump underneath the mix.  The guitar work at the bridge and breakdown is some of the best on the disc.  “The Fire” is a steady track clocking in at over 7 minutes that keeps the disc flowing with lots of percussion and drums, thundering bass, vocals that don’t veer from the path cut on other songs, and guitars that  fill the spaces between the other pieces.  “All Or Nothing” is another solid rocker that keeps the disc rocking and rolling along.  The guitar solo is cool and different from anything else on this disc.  This song helps define the disc with solid playing that shines without taking away from the group effort.  “Ready For The Taking” is another track that could have been ripped from the Whitesnake catalog, thanks to the guitar work and vocals.  The songs cadence and tempo hooks you early and keeps you engaged with a tapping foot and banging head.  This song was built to be played live.  “Hard Way” mixes up the feel of the disc a little with guitars and drums that seem to collide and bump from open to close, much like the piano intro to KISS’ “Christine Sixteen” seemed to run against the grain.  Once the chorus hits, this song is firing on all cylinders and charging smoothly down the track.

“Angel In Black” has a cool vibe woven throughout from the first note to the last.  The guitars are powerful, even when subdued and merely leading the vocals.  The chorus kicks in and the band dials up the energy on the track, delivering a solid rocker that helps anchor the sound of the disc.  “Walk Away” unfolds sweetly and softly, with a beautiful guitar piece from Vandenberg that is accompanied by Hoving and the song builds and grows from there thanks to the subtle yet strong rhythm section of bassist Sem Christoffel and drummer Mart Nijen es.  The solo at the bridge delivers punch without being a fret board frenzy of notes.  “What Doesn’t Kill You” is an anthemic track that gives the disc a different feel without detracting from the vibe created.  The lyrics are poignant and reflective of the human spirit, and is properly represented by the video the band released.  The bridge has a killer solo that will please every air guitarist around.  “New Day” is another catchy track that builds on the sound of the other songs on the disc.  The rhythm section really anchors this track and keeps it on course.  The blend of vocals, guitars, bass, and drums is a perfect mix that allows each sound to pop through the speakers at different moments.  “Love Runs Out” gives us a slightly different sound from the vocals; a bit more bluesy during the verse, but scaling the rock and roll mountain once the chorus kicks in.  The guitars from Vandenberg help this track soar during the transitions from verse to chorus to bridge and back again, even when the tempo shifts and slows.  This is another personal favorite on the disc that I come back to time and time again.  Disc closer “If You Can’t Handle The Heat” is a huge nod to Adrian’s guitar sound and musical legacy while tossing in a modern rock sound that is a bit heavier than a lot of other fodder you hear on rock radio these days.  The bass lines seem to jump from the mix and give the track depth while the guitars lead the charge and drive the song home.  There will no doubt be comparisons to Vandenberg’s time in Whitesnake once this disc is digested by rockers, but there is no mistaking – good music is good music regardless of the band or era… and this is good music!

Tracklisting: Tightrope – Reputation – Angel In Black – The Fire – Walk Away – All Or Nothing – What Doesn’t Kill You – Ready For The Taking – New Day – Hard Way – Love Runs Out – If You Can’t Handle The Heat

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CD REVIEW: VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS - MK II

Filed Under: CD Reviews

About the Author: ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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