Vandenberg – 2020 (Mascot)

According to the man behind the band, Vandenberg is no nostalgia act.

A first album in 35 years and a sound that’s reassuringly similar to predecessor Alibi suggests otherwise.

But there’s really nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted a fresh appetite for retro rock.

With no live shows, fans have been frantically crate digging for blasts from the past.

Classic sounds from classic bands have never been more sought after.

And Vandenberg has turned the clock back all the way to the mid 80s on the deceptively titled 2020.

Preferring the term ‘heritage’ to ‘nostalgia’, the flying Dutchman is splitting hairs when describing a record that’s firmly rooted in his hard rock past.

There are punchy power chords, soaring solos and song titles like Hell And High Water and Ride Like The Wind.

And to cap it all there’s a bullish re-recording of Vandenberg’s hit single Burning Heart.

Talk about pure, unadulterated nostalgia.

But none of this matters.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

And in revisiting the past, Vandenberg has cemented his future.

The smart decision to recruit Ronnie Romero on vocals has reaped rich rewards.

The pint-sized South American is the embodiment of classic rock’s 70s and 80s stars.

He can do Coverdale, Dio and Plant just as easily as Waite, Rodgers and Turner.

And Romero breathes new life into that brilliant cover of Burning Heart.

Elsewhere, 2020 could be the follow-up to Whitesnake’s 1987 (no surprise, then, that Vandenberg co-wrote 1989’s Slip Of the Tongue).

It could belong anywhere in Dio’s solo back catalogue.

And it’s a record that remains steadfast in its appreciation of a genre that will never die.

As nostalgia trips go it’s a wild old ride.

Let It Rain and Light Up The Sky are just two examples of Vandenberg’s enduring ability to pen custom-made classic rock with a cutting edge.

But 2020 is just as much about Romero’s relentless mission to establish himself as the heir apparent to the genre’s ageing giants.