IN THE PRESS
The legacy of metal starts for this scribe in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal era – Iron Maiden leading the pack, but there are plenty of strong contenders still plying their trade today (Saxon, Diamond Head, Angel Witch three that immediately come to mind). It’s wonderful to hear relatively new bands like California’s Space Vacation give their spin on the movement, hopefully churning their creativity on to a generation who didn’t get to experience those acts in their youthful 80’s days. With a new rhythm section in tow, Lost in the Black Divide is the proverbial third studio record that should vault the band into ‘must hear/see’ status – and based on the incessant spins this album has received over the past few weeks from this scribe, the four-piece should be very proud of these ten tracks.
The twin barrel guitar action of Scott Shapiro and Kiyoshi Morgan fills the landscape seamlessly, often pointed and sharp with fierce energy and occasional acoustic supplementation when necessary to flesh out the Ozzy-like charging opener “Devil to Pay” as an early highlight. Proper tempo variety enhances the guitar harmonies, with bass heroics often adding that dynamic separation for larger vocal melodies to stand out – “Stay Away” a mid-tempo arrangement with an addictive sing-a-long chorus. While many traditional metal bands throw the bulk of the hooks into the musical department, Space Vacation also emphasize multi-part vocal harmonies that rear back into 70’s AOR meets early Def Leppard lanes. The driving riffs and double bass combinations make “Roll the Dice” another highlight, while the ballad “Reason or Rhyme” takes on some piano overtures from special guest Edward Newton and a reflective, almost 50’s-style delivery vocally from Scott that proves these musicians are willing to expand their horizons and keep engagement on high near the conclusion of the record.
Location does play a part in the band’s sound – there is this effervescent breeziness for many of the twin guitar lines and tradeoffs beyond the vocal melodies. Check out “See You Again” and you’ll be hard pressed to not be bouncing around for the Maiden/Lizzy-like guitar activities against the sunny/uplifting lyrics yearning for love. Their last album from 2014 Cosmic Vanguard blew me away, and Lost in the Black Divide showcases the band’s propensity for looking deeper into all facets of melody, harmony, hooks, tempo, and arrangements- as a result creating another mandatory effort for all heavy metal/melodic hard rock followers.
Matt Coe, Dead Rhetoric |October 8, 2017
Bay Area band Space Vacation takes me back to the "golden era" of traditional heavy metal, where it all began. It was the glory days of tape trading, mimeograph fan-zines, and cut off denim jackets accented by band buttons and patches (and lots of beer, pot, and poodle-hair chicks in tight leather pants). Heavy metal was something between a cult movement and a brotherhood. I remember it well. Space Vacation returns with their fourth long player Lost In The Black Divide, and a new line up. Welcome new bass player Steve Hays and returning friend of the band, Eli Lucas on drums. With respect, it should be noted that former drummer Warren Ryan recorded the drum parts for this album.
Space Vacation plays classic, "keep it true" heavy metal like it's 1982, and without apologies. That's not to make them some retro band because traditional metal never goes out of style, whatever decade it may be, and still informs modern metal everywhere. The best and essential elements of the genre remain with Space Vacation's tunes: twin guitar harmony with ripping solos, clean vocals and solid vocal harmonies, and a strong bass line backed by a drum line that delivers both speed and groove. Going even more old school, guest player Edward Newton adds piano and Hammond organ on Reason Or Rhyme and Through The Door, which he cowrote with the band.
Speaking to the songs, most of the songs offer the gallop common to the style, especially the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, yet with moderation at times within. Tunes that get up and go, and keep moving, include the guitar scorcher Devil To Pay, the frisky Roll The Dice, rhythm section driven Live By The Sword, and riff monster The Black Divide, a real scorcher. Alternatively, the song See You Again turns more upon a hard rock groove in an AOR accessible sense, and sounds much like a Thin Lizzy Song. Similar, Enemy also sounds like heavy metal rock, and has terrific vocal harmonies and a catchy chorus. Returning to the songs cowritten with Newton, Reason Or Rhyme leads and ends with a light piano, but I'm not sure what his place is within Through The Door. Possibly I hear some Hammond after the midpoint. I definitely hear another strong bass line and some killer twin guitar dueling solos.
Honestly, I liked everything about this album, all the songs. Lost In The Black Divide may be Space Vacation strongest album to date. Space Vacation are authentic champions of American "keep it true" classic heavy metal. Quite recommended.
Craig Hartranft, Dangerdog |September 21, 2017
The third record for heavy metal band Space Vacation riles up all the aspects that made me a fan of a genre for life: the high octane power of striking the right guitar chord, the strong bass thump, the explosive grooves and tempos, and hooks aplenty from all areas of vocal melodies/harmonies as well as the twin guitar factor. "Cosmic Vanguard" possesses a lot of road-tested ideas, and as a result proves to be their most engaging, entertaining full-length to date.
Guitarists Scott Shapiro and Kiyoshi Morgan seemingly ignite their fretboards, the vitality propulsive after each and every airing for "Say My Name" and the speedier, double bass infused title cut. The brief "On Your Feet" instrumental intro has a lot of that "Ides of March"/ "Killers" era Iron Maiden meets early Def Leppard quality, where you can sense unison audience engagement before the mighty "More Is More" roars forth from your speakers. There are so many hooks to catch your attention in this song, from the beginning lead break to the up and down vocal parts of Scott and the simple but effective chorus - this is one of the anthems of 2014 for sure! "Battle Jacket" is another speed burner in the early Metallica mold, drummer Cubby Baumann wailing away on the snare, double bass, and fill parts as bassist Mark Shapiro keeps his fingers free flowing in chase to the Scott/ Kiyoshi dual guitar action - along with a neo-classical lead twist towards the second half of the song.
Equally adept at more mid-tempo terrain such as "The Living Damned" that is like a marriage of Saxon and Angel Witch beyond their traditional and speed tendencies, everything from Thin Lizzy to early Van Halen comes to mind throughout, and a good time should be had by all who yearn for that type of sound. The best song on here for my tastes is "Get Down" - every time I hear the spider web guitar parts and multi-part vocal harmonies, I end up losing myself to the aural journey that this track makes me undertake. 44 minutes that invites incessant airings, should fire up every party and gathering as you crack open your favorite beverages and talk shop.
Cauldron fans, High Spirits fans, NWOBHM fans, heavy metal maniacs - Space Vacation hit a grand slam on this platter. "Cosmic Vanguard" is that awesome of a record, folks.
Matt Coe, Eternal Terror |November 24, 2014
Space Vacation is a classic heavy metal band from San Francisco formed in 2008 and releasing the first album Space Vacation in 2009, and second attack called Heart Attack in 2012 with positive feedback from the media. Now the third album is coming the next 5th of december, and it continues and improves what they have done before...
Space vacation combines the US melodic heavy metal touch with the furious flames of the speed metal and the soul of the NWOBHM reminding to bands like early Praying mantis, Bronz or Diamond head, the mix result in a really effective performance that take the listener back to the early mid eighties.
After On your Feet, the epic introduction that open the album, the sudden speed metal attack of More is more well defines the band style, pure headbanging power in a fast paced song where the clean high pitched vocals performs amazingly well, and the guitars remains technical and sharp as the galloping mid fast riffs of Rolling Thunder explodes in a crescendo pattern, the verses herald an outstanding progression on the drums performance and the vocal style bring memories from Y&T sounds.
Cosmic Vanguard is the best song of the album, the riffs are sharp, catchy and remains in good harmony with the vocal evolution, the bass also mark one of his best parts drawing Synchronized scales with a mid fast strong pounding drumbeats, this track encapsulates the bands sound very well being one of those masterpieces that the listener will replay again and again.
Get down and Witch wizard will take you back in time once more with drippings of mid paced, melodic hard rock sounds but always keeping that British heavy metal elements, with remarkable job by the guitars act continued by another mid Tempo shot, The Living Damned, creating an impressive dual guitar melodies on the verses to change to an intense and more traditional bridge, combining riffs and shredding with the chorus.
Say my name take the early NWOBHM elements adding power metal drippings, brilliant job on the backing vocals resulting from a superb composition, the bassist play an excellent role emphasizing key moments prior to the solo and the chorus; same way for Eye to eye, more melodic though and hard rocker patterns comprising a good contrast with aggressive drum style.
Then the machine gun-like drumbeats attack combining explosive speed metal riffs with Battle Jacket, forging a style with fast elements from Skull Fist and melodic parts from White wizzard if compared with new bands, but obviously with NWOBHM roots, this track is another top headbanging shot from Space Vacation.
Last in line is Land of steel, including epic elements on top of the early heavy metal patterns, with galloping riffs that will make you scream with a fist in the air.
Space vacation demonstrated they are able to combine the best melodic hard rock together with the speed metal, enriching the bomb with power and epic drippings, the result couldn't be other than a wild and catchy masterpiece, added to a brilliant production and inspirational compositions, Space Vacation will take you to the top and back in time, coming next December.
8,5 / 10
Daniel Ortiz, Metalheads Union |November 12, 2014
October 25th 2014, Elbo Room, San Francisco CA
"Space Vacation opened the proceedings with their catchy and incredibly melodic brand of classic metal. The last time I saw them was with HellFire and AC/DShe at Slim’s in 2012, and this set saw the band in bouncier and far wilder form. The songs were quicker, with many Motorhead beats and double-bass attacks crammed in than I remember their old material containing. Guitarists Scott Shapiro and Kiyoshi Morgan also showed a much higher level of comfort and command onstage, with Morgan in particular shining with a multitude of rapid solos. With Shapiro’s smooth and immediately likable vocals, a newfound drive and strong musicianship, Space Vacation were as ideal an opener as one could ask for. "
-Avinash Mittur - Metal Assault
Space Vacation – “Heart Attack” (Pure Steel Records)
"Space cadets from San Francisco, these guys play Heavy Metal the way it should be! Galloping Maiden riffs, chugging Motorheadbanger rhythms and Def Leppard vocal melodies converge into one on “Heart Attack”, which has to be one of the rad-rest albums I’ve heard in a while. It’s not like it’s not been done before – most notably by those aforementioned bands in the early 80s – but these beer guzzling sickos actually mix it all together on songs like ‘Boston Massacre’, ‘Bro Hammer’ and ‘End Of The Bender’. Yup, Space Vacation are right up there alongside Cauldron and Barn Burner in revisiting NWOBHM era metal viz air guitar marathon soloing, excessive drum rolls, headbands, and harmony singalong songs. As luck would have it, there have been line-up changes since the recording of this album, but whatever their trip, I’m sure Space Vacation will always have plenty out there for old school headbangers."
Shan, Battle Helm |January, 2013
"'Heart Attack' may fool you at first in a somehow neutral cover but if you let the disc spin, you’ll realize the journey in the mighty 80s has just begun. SPACE VACATION utilizes the American Power/Speed Metal platform of the mid-to-late 80s and mixes it with some NWOBHM patronizing in order to start something pounding and aggressive yet vintage and traditional too. Ex-VICIOUS RUMORS axeman Kiyoshi Morgan joined the band recently and his work seems quite organized and Metal to the bone if you ask me, both in the rhythm and lead parts. The drumming of Eli Lucas seems simplified but there’s some identity and orgy behind his pounding, while the bass lines of Scott Shapiro may send shivers down your spine if you’re a Geddy Lee or Steve Harris fanatic."
Grigoris Chronis, Metal Kaoz |January, 2013
Space Vacation's 2009 self titled debut album
Glad to finally get to list something by these guys, an awesome local melodic metal band who we became fairly rabid fans of just from checking out their MySpace page a while ago, though when you hear 'em, you'll think its something we've been fans of ever since 1984 or so, long before MySpace or the Internet even existed, since they sound sooooooo '80s melodic NWOBHM / arena rock it's amazing. But they're a relatively young band from here in San Francisco, and this debut of theirs Allan here considers a top ten metal album of 2010, easy... and it's just a self-released cd-r, what in the old days you'd call a demo. Wish it was a real cd or vinyl album, it should be, these songs are really fucking good! And please don't let the goofy name put you off, we were surprised too when when we first heard 'em, but Space Vacation are indeed one of the best '80s influenced, heavy but brilliantly poppy metal band we've come across in ages. With galloping riffs, shredding solos, catchy licks, stick twirling hard hitting drumming, and stick-in-yer-head choruses, what's not to love? Classic stuff. The vocals are key, the dude (who also plays lead guitar) is not afraid to SING. Though he'll also happily shut up and play his guitar, as on the Eddie Van Halen-esque instrumental break "Streaker". And the band as a whole is not afraid to be a little (or a lot) cheesy, but in a good way. Good enough to remind us of cool EARLY Def Leppard and other greats. And we'd put this up against anything today of that old school melodic metal ilk, like Priestess, Cauldron, whomever. And you ironic inde rock types can take solace in the clever, not as cliched as you'd think lyrics that both celebrate and subvert the cliches of heavy metal. It's the pop element that puts this over the top, as our pal Glenn, another big SV fan, puts it, "it's like the most rudimentary NWOBHM from 1980 mixed with what you might get from a one-off juvenile indie-pop band formed as a joke by guys from Sloan and New Pornographers for a bachelor party for one of the members." We'd already heard 6 or 7 of these tracks via their MySpace but the others, new ones, are cool too. There's a "blast off" count-down intro going into a track called "Space Vacation"... a bit forced perhaps, doing the band-name-song, but then they hit their stride with "Keith's Sister" and you realize you are on a rocket ride indeed. Songs that as soon as you hear 'em, sound like you've been rockin' out to them forever. And look out for the hidden bonus track(s) at the end... the extra-poppy drinking song "Wicked Hammid"!