Marc Vanderberg - Highway Demon

Marc Vanderberg - Highway Demon

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(CD, darkSIGN Records, 2017)

Less than a year ago, a lot less actually there was a ping on Facebook with a link to a song and a question if I was interested in reviewing Marc Vanderberg's debut album, titled “Devil May Care”. This is happening rather frequently, so nothing strange with that. There was this line in the same message that caught my interest though saying; "you know, Kee Marcello plays on one of the songs and Göran Edman sings on the title track..." So, I decided to do it, also because the sample coming in the message sounded fantastic.

What I really enjoyed with the “Devil May Care” debut was that it was a very good piece of melodic Hard Rock, touching upon neo-classic, guitar-hero type of Heavy Metal. Still, it had a bit of an unpolished finish, a rawness that really made it interesting. “Highway Demon” has the same formula but is more consistent in sound as, instead of hiring different musicians for the songs, it is Marc and vocalist Raphael Gazal on the record with some guest-musicians. The title track opens the record and strikes hard with fantastic melodies and a catchy, close to sticky chorus-line. I love Marc's sense for a good and catchy vocal line. This is definitely one on the strengths of the album.

The classic '80s groove and initial part in “Blue Eyes” was the first thing getting stuck from the album. Raphael's voice which is rather raw for the genre makes this a really heavy piece and the more the album spins the better the song gets. I love the small pause before the chorus starts. This one, together with the title-track was releases as a single a while back. Mellow and heavy “The Last Battle” is another favorite; the dramatic verses vs the chorus which releases the frustration that was built up. That it increases somewhat in tempo really does the trick. Heartfelt ballad “How Do You Feel” is another fantastic composition. The feel in the song, the low mood makes it all very personal and genuine. That Marc included the booklet with lyrics and comments about the songs really added on to the whole thing (naaah, you got to get your own copy of the record to get the whole story).

There's one thing that bugs me with the “Highway Demon” record though and that is “You’re Like Poison”. I love the track, it's a damn catchy tune, real '80s MTV-hit... if it wasn't for the chorus. Alice Cooper kind of already did that in his mega-hit “Poison”... Sure, the arrangement behind it is different but with the keyboard and vocal line it comes a bit too close.

Fast, raw and Heavy “When I Turn The Key” was the next one to stick after the first spin. It has all the elements up-tempo Heavy Metal tracks that I love, one piece of GILLAN's raw”"Unchain Your Brain”, the fines from RAINBOW's “Spotlight Kid” and the attitude from SAXON's “Heavy Metal Thunder” and it's just awesome. My absolute favorite from “Highway Demon” though is “The Final Chapter”. Again, we're talking about melodic Hard Rock at its finest with an amazing chorus-line and a fantastic wrap-up of the record if excluding the instrumental “Total Eclipse”.

It's definitely an impressive piece of music he's come up with this time too Marc Vanderberg; it holds the same high quality as the debut but I must say I love the raw feel in this one which sets it as my favorite of the two.





01. Highway Demon
02. Blue Eyes
03. Bad Paradise
04. The Last Battle
05. How Do You Feel
06. Indispensable
07. You ́re Like Poison
08. When I Turn The Key
09. The Final Chapter
10. Total Eclipse (instrumental)


Marc Vanderberg - All Instruments
Raphael Gazal - Vocals