Review by Woody
When I was given this one to spin my initial thoughts leaned towards thunderous European heavy metal akin to Hammerfall. So when I was doing some background research I was shocked to learn that they weren’t Scandinavian as I had presumed Space Vacation actually hail from San Francisco in the USA. These guys are new to me and what I had presumed was a debut album is actually the third opus from these NWOBHM influenced metal heads.
Their eighties influences hit you in the face from the offset, there song writing is not faded or dated but you can clearly hear these guys grew up on the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. I stand by my initial statement that these guys have a strong thunderous euro heavy metal thing going on, bombastic, pompous and overblown at times, at times the Iron Maiden influences mainly in the guitar style is really apparent. Lots of galloping rhythms which keep the energy levels high and yes it can be really heavy in its pounding backbeat but it’s never aggressive and like their influences strongly melodic.
Guitar fans will love what Guitarist Kiyoshi is up to on ‘Cosmic Vanguard’ as there is plenty of fast and furious widdly guitar licks, hooks and solos that will really engross guitar lovers. I really like vocalist Scott Shapiro’s voice, it’s very smooth so therefore very melodious and unlike many of the music’s influences he definitely flows more towards been a singer than a screamer. That said there are plenty of massive bombastic soaring vocals, it’s just not in scream mode it’s in a more commanding contained way, much like many of the euro metal bands I would compare these guys to.
There is some nice diversity in how they structure their songs as well, ‘Get Down’ for example has a straight forward hard rock driven style chorus but it’s wrapped up in a driven metal structure. ‘The Living Damned’ is probably the most instant song on the album it has a very infectious flow with some engrossing guitar riffage and an absorbing chorus. Another highlight for me is the stomping chorus of the Iron Maiden influenced ‘Say My Name’.
It’s a pretty decent album, reasonably solid with a flow that never dips in quality so there are no tracks that stand out as fillers. Fans of NWOBHM, Old School eighties melody heavy Metal and Grandiose Euro Metal, will love ‘Cosmic Vanguard’. I have to admit the band name and that album title did put me off initially and made me instantly think this was going to be some psychedelic prog album, thankfully not, Metal fans should definitely give it a whirl.
Track Listing: On Your Feet / More Is More / Rolling Thunder / Cosmic Vanguard / Get Down / The Living Damned / Say My Name / Eye To Eye / Witch Wizard / Battle Jacket / Land Of Steel
Woody’s Essential Track: The Living Damned
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