German thrashers Vendetta were never more than cult heroes back in the late eighties; Signed to the legendary Noise Records label, they never quite got the kudos of label mates like Kreator or Grave Digger, despite a fiery sound and some rather appealing tunes. C’est La Vie.

Fast forward to 2023 and the band are now twenty years into a ‘comeback’ that sees the band releasing it’s sixth full-length album in the shape of Black As Coal. And still they remain on the outer, it would seem.

The problem is that, in 2023, the band just don’t have a point of difference to set them apart from the peloton in this year’s tour de thrash. Riffs bluster without really threatening, and ideas never really punch their way to fruition as the band hammer away in a constant state of perspiration. Every song has something going for it, whether it be a quirky arrangement or just a momentarily catchy refrain, but never in such quantities that you find yourself stopping what you are doing and really listening to what’s coming out of the speakers. Tracks like AK-47, Death Means Relief and Cheap Death probably punch the hardest, and I’m sure they come across well in the live environment, but none lodge in the brain for long when you are say in your lounge listening to the album. For a band that features three guitar players (bassist Klaus Ullrich adds his six string talents to those of Michael Opferman and Jan Schubert in the studio) the riffs lack a little in the oomph department, whilst vocalist Mario Vogel doesn’t do enough with the variation of his melodies to draw the listener in and keep them engaged.

In the final analysis there isn’t anything on Black As Coal that you will find actively unpleasant – but there isn’t enough to get you jumping out of your seat either.

Black as Coal
releases on July 14th.