Marc Vanderberg - Highway Demon

Marc Vanderberg Highway Demon cover
Marc Vanderberg
Highway Demon
DarkSIGN Records
Hot on the heels of “Devil May Care” comes “Highway Demon” the sophomore effort from German neoclassical loving guitarist, Marc Vanderberg.
Improving on all areas, from his debut, chiefly the mix and consistency, after ditching multiple vocalists in favor of a permanent one by the name of Raphael Gazal, who seems to be doing a fair job, Vanderberg offers “more of the same”, but much better refining his ideas and presenting rare constraint in the fact that while he keeps on at torturing the guitar at regular intervals, he leaves just enough space to the vocalist and the songs in general to “breathe”, something that not all shredders tend to do.
The eponymous track is “decent” but a little too self-absorbed, with the more 80s inspired “Blue Eyes” working a lot better.
“Bad Paradise” seems to continue the bit of social consciousness that was present in the debut (see “Smoking Kills...” haha) condemning drug use, indirectly.
The Last Battle” is a little more epic and involved, but here is where things could improve more… I suppose due to budget constraints, there’s still a lot of stuff happening in house/by MV himself… this song for instance would have benefited greatly from some keys and a more varied vocal approach, with softer passages, a fact a producer would/could point out; it would increase the dramatic element. Right now and because of the tight production (which is an improvement over the debut) things sound a little too packed and that sucks the life out of them.
“How Do You Feel” is a nice enough ballad that could have used more instrumentation.
“Indispensible” might be a love song, but it’s fully electric and heavy, so calling it a ballad goes out the window, I suppose.
“You’re Like Poison” under other circumstances and with a richer production could have been an anthem in the 80s (lots of Yngwie references in this one)…
“When I Turn the Key” is an ode to speed and cars (I suppose Porsche for the German? Ferrari for the Swede etc. hehe); It’s a little “stupendous” in the lyrical department, but so be it…
“The Final Chapter” is not at the end of the album – and feels wierdly tacked – after the faster track that precedes it… pace wise.
Last but not least, we ‘re treated to “Total Eclipse” an instrumental, way more involved than last years “Godfather” but nowhere near as inspired melodically.
There’s a certain improvement over the debut, but still production can become less “artificial” and more variety in pacing and a wider less compressed mix would be nice to see. Songwriting remains quite decent and the promise the artist has holds... but seems only to manifest in small increments.