Now this is a surprise. Vandallus features two thirds of the satanic royalists Midnight, namely Steve Dukuslow (drums) and Shaun Vanek (guitar, drums Bass) and this trio is completed by Jamie Vanek (vocals/guitars). However, the other Jamie from Midnight did contribute to this release. First off, it is VERY different to the blackened speed metal of midnight. This is a hybrid of Dokken, Ratt and many other big commercial bands of the 80’s heyday, but please don’t call it glam, it’s nothing like that!
In fact, a track like ‘Break the Storm’ has me thinking of the early Swedish metal bands, it has a similar character but what you really gain from this release involves effortless expression of melody and the art of writing songs that are inclusive for the listener, that is, they’re very memorable. ‘Who’s Chasing Me’ is another example of many influences, light and metallic at the start with the edgy guitar tone completed with an infectious chorus making you instantly sing along. If this were a release from yesteryear, I reckon they would be now classed as one of the leaders in the field. Everything fits perfectly and tips the listeners emotions over the edge in more than a few places. Even the ballad ‘Running Lost’ remains responsive to your affections, it could have been a touch shorter in length as there are a couple of natural breaks, but overall the quality of the song writing remains very high. Of course, you can completely rock your socks off to high octane tunes such as ‘Back to the Grind’ that’s quite like the Scorpions at their commercial peak, there’s so many good qualities to mention.
So, after dozens of plays, this is a real highlight album for lovers of an older style that’s very much relevant in today’s market, with more of the hard rock edge than anything else heavier. But ‘On The High Side’ is a new release that should easily be considered a classic must have album and is a reminder of how good music like this makes you feel. With the personnel involved, it is a real game changer and a pleasant near perfect surprise.
(9/10 Paul Maddison)