Out now on Van Records

Dutch band Vanderbuyst treated us to two albums full of uncomplicated hard rock. Both albums are a trip back to the very early eighties : simple songs, slightly ramshackle production and vocals that can best be described as non-remarkable. What set Vanderbuyst apart was the insane guitar playing. Axeman Willem Verbuyst let loose with solo upon solo of Schenker inspired goodness. I enjoyed both albums very much.

But then he got criticised for overplaying. The ever trendy Dutch press questioned the value of such six string extravaganza. Must be the Calvinistic legacy of their upbringing. And unfortunately, it’s had its repercussions on this new album…

The guitar playing has been toned down several notches. There’s far less lead breaks, for one. In places where the dynamic arc of the song builds up to one, you just get another verse. And when the lead break does come, it’s mostly too short and feels restrained, as album closer Welcome To The Night painfully illustrates. That bit of noodling would never have passed for the lead break on any of the earlier Vanderbuyst releases. Only on rare occasions is Verbuyst let off his leash to run free.

A damn shame, because the band have progressed in every other field. The songs are concise and catchy, production is open and alive and the vocals are easily the most melodic yet.

But Willem Verbuyst, quite possibly the best hard rock guitarist to come from the continent since John Norum, has been neutered and muzzled in the name of cool. And that pisses me off.

I’ll give Vanderbuyst the benefit of the doubt this time, but I hold a grim view of the future…

Rating – 75%
Review by Sancho