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The Vendettas are back! Bystander and Destroyer is the follow-up to their previous album Burn, and what a fantastic second outing this is! These Melbournian rockers have always been top-notch with regards to the level of professionalism in their product, but dare I say Bystander and Destroyer surpasses Burn in both production value and songwriting – not an easy feat if you’ve heard their first album!

The Vendettas are known for their driving rock rhythms and catchy hooks, and they’ve taken this to the next level right out of the gate with “Wake up Call”. Aside from all the cool riffs and melodies that make this a great song, it’s the perfect chorus line that really sold it for me (“There’s no need for an alibi honey, I’ll be gone in the morning”). “Ain’t No Time”, the following track, has a very similar lead-in to “Wake Up Call”, but it is still my favorite song on the album. It’s extremely memorable, well written and I love all the components and how seamlessly they work together. One example of this being the guitar melody that blends into the vocals in the refrain. It’s a hit single if I’ve ever heard one, and I’ve listened to it repeatedly.

You’ll find a little more depth on this album than you might have on its predecessor Burn. “Blackened Heart” and “Anyone Can See” have a folky feel to them. I can hear distant echoes of guitarist Jared Mattern’s two-man act Evil Twin. On a bluesier note, the same could be said about “Paid Your Dues”. “Blackened Heart” has musical influences that are almost in the vein of country music (that blues-meets-country Nashville vibe is reminiscent of Tom Keifer’s excellent songwriting). “Fortunate Brave” is another great track with a killer chorus. Steve Reds’ vocals, and the harmonies, really soar on this song – with a great hook in the chorus.

I can’t give enough praise to the talent present on Bystander and Destroyer. The Vendettas have always had a consistent sound and style of rock n’ roll, but there’s a lot more diversity on this album. It makes for great party music, yet the songs are simultaneously introspective. I highly recommend that you give Bystander and Destroyer a listen on The Vendettas Bandcamp page. For now I’m placing them in the hidden gem category but I predict it won’t be long before the rest of the world takes an interest in this talented Australian rock’ n roll act!

Richard Leggatt, HMS

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