Dutch heavy metal band Vortex made their name in my mind with their first couple of releases. Namely ‘85’s “Metal Bats” and then with the following years “Open the Gate”. Having been playing music since 1979, and pioneering the Dutch movement (unfortunately they never have mainstream or commercial success), Vortex are back with a new release. Or so I thought…!

These are actually songs that were meant to be on a new album earmarked in 1987. Guitarist “Whirwolf” Brongers digitized the bands old demos and these songs were found. These demos have been subsequently re-recorded by the band to bring you this release as it is. I can naturally hear the next step from their two previous releases mentioned earlier. However, there are four releases post 2003 that I have never heard, I guess the avid followers amongst you will know the score in that respect. The strength of ‘Spiritualien’ is cool, this is a comfortable intro to the release. I really like the infectious nature of ‘I.C.U.’ with the overall tempo of the album here varying between mid to slow pace. The title track, yes, I hear the vibe although after this point I must admit that my interest is waning. We start to have similar sounds, but yet the solos, well they remain a stand out feature for me. I am surprised, as a modern re-record, this still sounds like the late 80’s, perhaps this is because the soul of these original recordings has remained. I actually listened to this album many times prior to putting finger to keyboard or in fact reading the background material, so it all fits in my mind now!

I am pleased there are still bats flying around and that the Vortex is still strong. The album is a fine listen but it doesn’t stand out a great deal. As they say, there are no frills, just honest heavy metal. The song writing is strong, a testament to a 30 year statement of intent. This will appeal to dedicated fans of the band. I am not sure these tracks will become as classic as some, but if you don’t know the band, it’s a decent starting point. However, I thoroughly recommend their first two releases.

(7/10 Paul Maddison)