The World's Gone Mad: The Best of Vardis

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The World's Gone Mad: The Best of Vardis offers everything (maybe more) that you'll ever need to hear from New Wave of British Heavy Metal trio Vardis. Virtually all of the band's career output is covered on this two-disc set, and what few items were omitted (mostly their ill-advised latter-day commercial excursions) were done so for good reason. Disc one is an absolute scorcher, boasting choice early singles and every track from the boogie metal merchants' inspired first album (which, incidentally, was recorded live), with judicious care taken to include alternate versions to highlight the best material: "100 MPH," "If I Were King," "Let's Go," and more. Vardis' second, only slightly inferior album is also featured in full (including their fiery version of Hawkwind's "Silver Machine") and we're well into disc two before the material takes a dip in either quality or sheer acceleration. Then, the band's diminishing fortunes (i.e., uneven third album, Quo Vardis) invariably lead them down the roads of commercial concessions and questionable attempts to expand their audience (witness the cringe-inducing ballad "To Be With You"). Still, even amidst such lamer offerings, outstanding barnburners like "Together Tonight" and "Boogie Blitz" carry the day thanks to colorful frontman Steve Zodiac's truly volcanic guitar leads. Throw in Sanctuary Records' dependably high-quality liner notes and packaging, and you've got a completist's wet dream; and at a discount price, even causal observers might want to consider this over the now-hard-to-find single-disc greatest-hits set.

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