Vardis - Vigilante (Nemo me Impune Lacessit) (Hoplite Records)

A nice opportunity to step back in time...

This reissue of NWoBHM ‘legends’ Vardis’ 1986 album Vigilante comes as a presager to an all new album slated for release later in the year, and as an amuse-bouche for that it serves its purpose well. As a stand alone release, well, it’s not quite so successful, but ANY Vardis is better than no Vardis, right?

The band built a fierce live reputation in the late/seventies early eighties, but, like many other second division bands of their ilk their never successfully managed to translate that live fury to the comparatively dead medium of wax. On Vigilante they perhaps came closer than ever to capturing their unhinged live spirit, with the chugging Running (Beyond the Threshold of Pain) and bonus track Bad Company in particular giving a hint of what band mainman Steve Zodiac is capable of.

Elsewhere more commercially-minded material like I Must Be Mad and Guitar Hero (Just for You) don’t stand up as well to twenty-first century scrutiny, with tracks like the punky, new wave resonation of Radio Active (Feel It) faring much better with its spiky verses and neat, hard-hitting soloing. However the band are probably most effective when going back to basics and putting their faith in simple, heads down boogie workouts like Radio Rockers; It’s here that their three-piece format works best, as drummer Gary Pearson hammers out a simple, fast pace over which bassist Terry Horbury weaves some interesting basslines whilst Zodiac goes for broke with his trusty telecaster. This style of music was dated in 1986, let alone in 2014, but when the band locks together as they do at the end of this song the power is undeniable. 

Other highlights include the Bachman Turner Overdriveish Don’t Mess With the Best (‘cos The Best Don’t Mess), with its playful end quotation from American Civil War Rebel Anthem Dixie and the hard-driving Wild Sound, which again showcases Zodiac’s undeniable guitar talent with some crunchy riffage and tasty lead work.

A welcome chance then to remember the Vardis sound, and if you were a fan of the band in the eighties but missed out on Vigilante then there’s no way you won’t enjoy this. But more modern ears might want to wait for a new offering.


Vigilante is out now