VEGA – “Battlelines” – 2023 – Frontiers Records
Melodic Powerhouse VEGA are back with their 8th album and I’ll tell you right now they havn’t lost any momentum as singer/founding member Nick Workman seems to get stronger each album, both his voice and the song-writing.
For those unfamiliar with the band, they’ve been doing 80’s influenced Rock since 2010 and have an extensive library of amazing tunes. When I say “80’s influenced” I don’t mean a clone of that era, they’re just not afraid to sing and write arena style rock songs. They’ll use keyboards and aren’t don’t try to overcomplicate the lyrics or songs. Having said that they have always been about great musicianship and utilizing their talents.
Even though I don’t put them fully into the AOR camp, they certainly qualify. They’re actually quite heavy at times, the drums and guitars play a bit part of the songs. The title track “Battlelines” is more of a mid-tempo ballad, but there’s plenty of more uptempo stuff like “Killers”, “Love To Hate You”, “Heroes And Zeros” and “Don’t Let Them See You Bleed” to keep the Hard rockers satisfied.
“33’s And 45’s” is the sleeper track, a really solid melodic rock song that Bon Jovi would love to have on a new album. Actually, this is how I think we all wish Bon Jovi WOULD sound in 2023.
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of darkness in the world, it’s nice to hear bands who generally take a more positive outlook and who embrace harmony and melody over aggression.
VEGA – “Kiss Of Life” -2010 – Frontiers Records
Great Britain’s VEGA plays a style of Rock that’s loaded with melody, harmony and an unapologetic amount of keyboards. They’ve taken the 80’s “Survivor” sound and modernized it, that’s the simplest way to describe them. Of course there’s more to the band than that including some very talented lads.
Twin brothers James Martin (keyboards) and Tom Martin (Bass) had been working with some bands from the 80’s era like House Of Lords, Danny Vaughn of Tyketto, Joe Lyn Turner and others on the Frontiers Record Label. After some conversations Nick Workman was brought in as the singer and and along with Dan Chantry on drums and guitarist Marcus Thurston they were on their way.
Their debut is a solid piece of AOR/Melodic Rock. Considering it was put together rather quickly they sounded pretty good… good enough to for fans of the genre to really start talking about the potential for the band.
Nick Workman certainly has the singing chops. Great range and great emotion really help bring the songs to life. James Martin’s keyboards might open up a good number of the songs, but he’s used more as an accent. The band more guitar/drums and powerful vocals. To some of course they’re light rock, but when you listen closely the music is quite powerful, they’re not just mailing the songs in, Workman’s belting out some great stuff and there are even guitar solos!
You can already hear something magical happening with the band. “Staring At The Sun”, “Stay With Me” and “Wonderland” already have it, and many of the tracks were right on the cusp of being spectacular. I think they just suffered slightly from time restraints and still developing as a band.
AOR can be dreadful when it’s not done right, it can be some of the most amazing music when it’s done right and these guys are much more towards doing it VERY well. There are some lyrical issues on this one and I’m not 100 percent sold on the keyboards, but overall it’s a great start for the band.
VEGA – “What The Hell” -2013 – Spinefarm Records
After a successful debut that drew attention from the AOR/Melodic Rock community around the world, Britain’s VEGA had the task of following it up with another strong album. This time they were signed under the Spinefarm Records label instead of Frontiers Records.
What they produced was a more all-around diverse album “What The Hell”. It featured more upbeat AND slower cuts as well as the use of more “Gang” vocals. In the end they did improve on their debut in some ways and still showed signs of being something very special.
“White Knuckle Ride” was a single from the album that offered a good sample of what the album was about. The problem was the lack of another solid song, the middle part of the album really seemed to drag along.
There’s 14 songs, 15 with the bonus cut. If they had condensed that down and worked on a few more you might have had a much more impressive album. More does not all mean better. Regardless, they had some good stuff here, ‘Cry’ and ‘Savior’ were strong, The title track was decent too. Some tracks suffered from lack of creativity, which brings me back to the condensing down a bit might have served them better.
Singer Nick Workman was very impressive again. His range is crazy and he makes it sound easy. His pure energy powered some of the weaker songs along and made them more listenable.
Overall it’s still a good record that did improve on the first, but not as much as I was personally hoping for. But for those hungry for Melodic Hard Rock, this is an album you’re going to want to have in your library.
VEGA – “Stereo Messiah” – 2014
After putting out their second album “What The Hell” on Spinefarm, the British band spent little time coming back to Frontiers where they put out their debut “Kiss Of Life” in 2010. Frontiers also released “What The Hell” at the same time so there was a lot of the band out there at the time.
They managed to get Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot to do some back vocals when Vega covered their song ‘10x Bigger The Love’. Needless to say it gave them a shot in the arm and they seemed to make up for the lack of promotion they got from Spinefarm. Lesson learned as they havn’t left Frontiers Records since.
The album is solid again. They didn’t change a lot on this one from the first two album. ‘All Or Nothing’ and ‘Gonna Need Some Love Tonight’ were a couple of the standout tracks. The production was slightly more compressed than before and it seemed to hurt singer Nick Workman the most as the high ends weren’t as distinct. It wasn’t a huge deal, more of a minor concern.
So now they’re three albums in and we’ve gotten similar products from them on each album. For their fans, that’s great, but my concern is that we won’t quite see their potential if they keep at this level.
Once again, I do recommend this one if you’re a fan of the genre, it’s still done better than most of the bands doing Melodic Rock. I hold them to a higher standard because I hear the potential to be something extremely special.
VEGA – “Who We Are” – 2016 – Frontiers Records
UK’s Melodic Rockers VEGA returned for a new album in 2016 and this time they worked with Harry Hess of Canada’s HAREM SCAREM as the producer.
Having them work with Hess was a great move. If I had to compare VEGA to one band, HAREM SCAREM would be near the top, they’re another underrated Melodic Rock band who’s been slugging away for decades.
The overall result of working with Hess seemed to be positive, at least from the outside looking in. The album’s sound was on par, it might have been their best produced album to date. Overall it sound slightly heavier too with a little less keyboards and more guitars.
“Who We Are” started really strong with ‘Explode’, one of their heavier songs they’ve done. ‘White Flag’ was released, and it’s a good track, but probably not my first choice as a single. I might have gone with ‘Ignite’ personally, but both songs were similar in their vibe. ‘Saving Grace’ was a sleeper track too, it was placed towards the end, but had a much stronger chorus than almost all the other cuts.
It’s another strong effort from VEGA even if it lacks a little creativity. For some that’s fine, don’t mess with the formula, and I’m in that camp for the most part too. I’m still looking for a few bigger hooks in the choruses, but if it was that easy everyone would be doing it!
Highly recommended for Hard Rock/AOR/Melodic Rock/80’s and HAREM SCAREM fans too of course.
VEGA – “Only Human” – 2018 – Frontiers Records
After a solid performance on “Who We Are” using Harry Hess from HAREM SCAREM as a producer, Britain’s VEGA joined forces with Hess again on Italian label Frontiers Records.
They get right to the point, the singles from the album are the first three songs, “Let’s Have Fun Tonight”, “Worth Fighting For” and “Last Man Standing”. I’m cool with all of them being released, they were solid upbeat tracks that showed what the band was capable of.
I think Hess helped move the band forward a little bit too, they used some more modern elements on the album, but didn’t forget their roots based in the 80’s. It’s perhaps the album most suited to fit on Modern Rock Radio.
As they have in the past the songs are generally about life and love, relatable and real. For those tired of those subjects, remember that there’s always new fans getting into music going through relationships and hardship so you’ll always have a fanbase for this style.
And thank goodness for singer Nick Workman. His voice is so refreshing in a sea of whatever level of Post Grunge we’re on right now. I get it, for some it’s going to be too mellow, but you can’t deny the band has “power”. I would argue back in the day about another British band The Outfield. They might have been a “Pop” band but there was some power in what they were doing. VEGA has a similar feel, even if it’s AOR doesn’t mean it has to be wimpy.
Besides the singles, there’s other very solid tracks. ‘Mess You Made’ and the title track are both nice singalong tracks. ‘Go To War’ wraps up the album nicely after a few songs that were easy to skip over.
As a whole it’s a nice piece of work, production is solid, good songs. It’s probably not their best work, probably not their worst. As I have for all their albums, I can recommend this to anyone who’s into Melodic Hard Rock
VEGA – “Grit Your Teeth” – 2020 – Frontiers Records
UK Rockers VEGA released their album “Grit Your Teeth” just around the time the pandemic was spreading in 2020 so like many other albums it took a backseat to what was going on in the world.
Once again they released the album through Frontiers Records, who have been one of the few supporters of real Melodic Rock and AOR on the planet. VEGA still fits perfectly on their roster.
Musically the band is still very tight and the “song remains the same” so to speak. They maintain their ability to write strong AOR songs with a modern twist. There seems to be a bit more angst behind the album as the title “Grit Your Teeth” might imply.
There’s quite a few songs that almost hit the mark but just fall a little into the “average” category. The singles ‘Man On A Mission’ and ‘I Don’t Need (Perfection)’ were easily the best songs on the album, or at least the two songs that stood out the most as being a little different.
On a side note there wasn’t a true ballad on the album, it’s got a nice pace, it’s easy to listen to. I personally didn’t miss the slower stuff and why cram one into the playlist if it’s not necessary. The only reason bands put them on the album is for radio airplay, if you’re not getting that then why bother.
The band has slowly turned into a more Modern Rock band as time has passed, when they started there was no way they were getting on radio, at least here in the states. Now they’re getting closer to sounding like a Nickelback/Hinder/Foo Fighters type of band. Unfortunately that’s not really a compliment.
VEGA – Anarchy And Unity – 2021 – Frontiers Records
Coming out of the pandemic, or at least towards the end, British Melodic Rockers VEGA put out new material after replacing a couple band members. It feels like a new chapter, and after a couple of songs you realize the band IS in fact changing things up.
“Beautiful Lie” and “Sooner Or Later” sound like somebody sped up the tracks. They’re not Speed Metal of course, but they are bit “out of the pocket” where VEGA usually sits in. Either would make a great show opener actually as they don’t mess around and get the adrenaline going.
The production is noisier and louder too, you could say there’s more of an “edge” to them. It’s not a bad thing for the most part, but it takes a bit to adjust to. And if they made a step towards mainstream on “Grit Your Teeth”, this is more of a “jump”. They still are using keyboards and have an 80’s backbone, but Nick Workman’s voice has matured and become grittier over years, which put him in a category closer to the Modern Rock singers.
They can’t help but be more Melodic however, and ‘Kneel To You’ and ‘Had Enough’ are good examples of their ability to write that strong chorus. After no ballads on their last one they return with “Live For Me”, but it really stood out a little funny on this album.
“Bring The Riot” was a banger that fit in with the “Sooner Or Later” and “Beautiful Lie”. The latter two songs were singles, but maybe “Bring The Riot” would have been a better choice.
I’ve seen mostly positive reviews for the album and mine is too for the most part. I’ve always said VEGA has some massive talent and they always put out a great product. After seven albums they’ve accomplished more than most bands and have an impressive library of material. Their consistency is also quite impressive, to rate the albums would be tough as they all have strong (and some weak) points. Overall “Anarchy And Unity” shows the band only seemed to be building up steam.