ONLY HUMAN is the fifth studio album from UK melodic rock stalwarts Vega. The band produced the album and also teamed up with the legendary Canadian musician and producer, Harry Hess of Harem Scarem on mixing and mastering to bring their fans another gem of a melodic rock record!
I was excited to get to hear this album before its release date - I love the Vega sound, and Nick Workman’s vocals are just brilliant. Their previous recordings, and their live set are true to their 1980s influences, and the new album is no exception. It is a solid, well produced album that will be a joy to Vega fans and is a worthy addition to any AOR collection. Littered with riffs and choruses that will have live audiences dancing and joining in, this is another great record from Vega.
"We wear our love of ‘80s rock music on our sleeve, but we also have injected our love of modern rock music to it. We aren't trying to rehash anything: the sound we have achieved is 100% VEGA. We didn't want to try and guess what people expect and get it wrong," says singer Nick Workman.
As I listened to the album, it became very clear that Workman is right in what he says. It has clear and definite 1980s influences with a modern twist. The album opener is ‘Let’s Have Fun Tonight’. A thunderous start with strong vocals and the use of effects throughout the track give the catchy choruses an anchor. The guitars work well together to build a texture to the music. After a fantastic starting track, we move into ‘Worth Dying For’. In my view, this is the right song to use as a single, ahead of the album release, as it gives listeners a taster of the album. It is a big song, and will have audiences in live shows singing along to its meaningful lyrics.
The next track, ‘Last Man Standing’ has a spoken intro, including the phrase “What happens in Vega, stays in Vega” which is becoming the bands strap-line. This track is typically Vega, with its traditional R&R sound. It is new music with a familiar feel as Workman’s vocals dominate, layered over the solid rhythm section.
Drums dominate the start of ‘Come Back Again’ which then leads to a big sound as the guitars enter the musical arena. With the vocals bringing in the top layer, Vega brings forth a solid, anthemic track which will delight their fans, and create new ones.
The pace is picked up again with track 5 - ‘All Over Now’. This is a masterpiece with the rhythm section underpinning the guitars and vocals, and solos which will have the air guitar players joining in. The guitar intro on ‘The Mess You Made’ instantly grabs your attention. The track is true to Vega’s influences , with its strong vocals and a beautifully performed guitar solo, this is another crowd pleaser.
The second half of the album is as good as the first, with the title track giving us a huge guitar sound which moves aside for the vocals as the keys provide a solid support. The keys also provide a dominant start to ‘Standing Still’ which slows down the pace a bit before building to its anthemic climax with a screaming guitar solo bringing the track to a close. ‘Gravity’ is, for me, one of the stand out tracks of the album. It picks up the pace and challenges Workman’s vocal range and with James Martin’s keyboard talents shining through, it will be one of several crowd pleasers.
‘Turning Pages’ is a nod to the 1980s hair metal ballads and, for me, the weakest track on the album. It just doesn’t grab me the way the other tracks do. In contrast ‘Fade Away’, immediately following it, is similarly influenced by the same era, but with its well constructed riffs and lyrics with great harmonies, this guitar led track is probably one of my favourites.
The album closes with the simply brilliant track ‘Go To War’. As a finale, it is a track that marries together all the talents and emotions from the earlier part of the record. The heavy drumming and great guitar work is a track which will have you reaching for the ‘repeat’ button, as well as the schedule for their next live gig near you.
‘Only Human’ will be released on 11th May 2018 on Frontier Records.
Nick Workman - Lead Vocals, Backing vocals, acoustic guitar and wall hitter
Tom Martin - Bass Guitar
Marcus Thurston - Lead Guitar
James Martin - Keyboards
Mikey Kew - Guitar, Backing vocals
Martin ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson - Drums