British rock band VEGA (not to be confused with the Turkish alt-rock band of the same name!) will release their new album Grit Your Teeth on Friday 12th June 2020 via Frontiers Records. It’s VEGA’s sixth album, and the band are (not so quietly!) confident that this will be their career-defining work. Working with producers the Graves Brothers (Asking Alexandria, Funeral For A Friend, The Family Ruin), they’ve pulled out all the stops and reckon to have created their biggest sounding album yet.
This band have paid their dues. Over the years, they’ve toured with Skid Row, Magnum, Joe Elliott’s Down and Outz, Dan Reed Network, and have had umpteen festival appearances, all of which have helped shape them as one of the UK’s finest melodic rock bands. The fact that they are not more widely recognised is more down to bad luck than anything else, as anyone that has witnessed them live recently will testify.
It was back in 2009 that the band got together and released their debut album, Kiss Of Life. The eclectic, off-kilter style of rock made them stand out from the crowd and the band were keen to be more than just another AOR band. As bassist Tom Martin has said in Classic Rock Magazine, “We don’t want to be an eighties throwback. It’s not that we don’t like AOR, far from it, but we want to add new flavours”.
Subsequent recordings underlined their influences as being Def Leppard, Joe Eliott repaying the complement by giving the band a song on the Stereo Messiah album. Next up was their fourth release Who We Are, reckoned at that time to be their finest output. Lyrically compelling, it traversed rock genres with ease, hitting a note with pop and rock fans alike, with songs like Saving Grace, White Flag and Every Little Monster becoming firm favourites at festivals.
2017 saw them releasing Only Human, a collection of songs that focused on their core strengths: strong harmonies, big choruses, and compelling lyrical content. The album exceeded all expectations by hitting the UK National Rock Chart at No. 3 between Shinedown and Black Stone Cherry, and the band then toured with the Quireboys and Skid Row, then culminating in a slot at DOWNLOAD along with their heroes Def Leppard and Whitesnake.
And so to the new stuff: eleven new tracks, all killer no filler as the old adage goes! The band hit the same satisfying groove as young bands like Collateral and Anchor Lane, both recently reviewed in these pages. First up is Blind, quite a heavy opener with a hint of Guns’n’Roses, it’s basically a chunter about fake news and social media. Next is (I Don’t Need) Perfection – loads of swagger and a really cool bass line. The band knew from the moment they wrote it that this should be the single / festival anthem – see for yourselves below:
The track Grit Your Teeth has a ‘David and Goliath’ mantra, and has a strong touch of Def Leppard / Bon Jovi in its vibe. It’s certain to be another festival favourite – but then so will the next, the pounding Man On A Mission. There’s an infectiousness to all these numbers that is thoroughly enjoyable! Don’t Fool Yourself even has a passing resemblance to Aerosmith, with a stonking chorus. Consequence Of Having A Heart has a completely different rhythm but still retains that essence of “Swagger” – probably the one-word definition for this band. This One’s For You is then back to basics, but still has time to include a neat piano solo!
Battles Ain’t A War and Save Me From Myself slow things down a little, and really emphasise that glorious melodic tunefulness that is the hallmark of this band. How We Live then hangs off a massive chugging riff, again very Leppard-esque but who’s complaining! Described by the band as perhaps the last of its “early days” kind that they will write, still very catchy melodic rock with plenty of hooks and guitar-shredding. The album’s closer Done With Me is then just a great ‘rabble-rouser’, it has attitude, and is clearly a band having great fun at the end of a recording session! There’s no guitar solo, but it rocks massively and has loads of shouting and screaming!
The album was recorded in an industrial unit in York, the Graves brothers influence reflecting the “metal” side of the album and creating a cracking blend of melody and hooks with power – just what the doctor ordered! Theirs is a brand of music that is as rewarding as it is challenging. VEGA’s love for rock from the ’80s and early ’90s shines through this album without it being a re-hash – it’s just great fun, and I look forward to them sorting new tour dates once things return to “Normal” – Watch out for them!