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Though they enjoyed a reasonably long career by New Wave of British Heavy Metal standards, Wakefield, England's Vardis never really fit in with the genre's standard denim-and-leather credo. Instead, they employed a pretty unique style of raw, energized boogie with roots in hard-edged '70s glam and a very uncharacteristic sense of humor to boot.
Initially going by the handle of Quo Vardis (an obvious homage to the influential Status Quo), the band was led by singer/guitarist Steve Zodiac, whose larger-than-life Johnny Winter-meets-Ted Nugent persona shared the stage with bassist Alan Selway and drummer Gary Pearson. After dropping the "Quo" for legal reasons, they issued two singles, September 1979's "100 M.P.H." and April 1980's "If I Were King," both of which showcased the trio's frenetic boogie metal (mixing equal amounts of Motörhead and Slade) and attracted a respectable following. This, in turn, led to a deal with the independent Logo label, which issued Vardis' debut album (recorded live), also entitled 100 M.P.H., in October 1980. A second album (this one created in an actual studio) was quickly put out in April 1981, and featured an amped-up cover of Hawkwind's classic "Silver Machine." Selway quit after 1982's Quo Vardis, just as the band became embroiled in a lengthy dispute with their former management. Except for 1983's The Lion's Share retrospective, little was heard from the band until 1986, when they returned with new bassist Terry Horbury and a fourth album of original material, entitled Vigilante. Vardis would break up shortly thereafter, and their catalog has since been given two greatest-hits treatments, first with 1997's Best of Vardis and later with the double-disc Castle anthology, 2001's World's Gone Mad: Best of Vardis. Vardis re-formed in 2014 with a lineup that included Zodiac, Pearson, and bassist Terry Horbury. Pearson would leave the fold by the end of the year, making room for new drummer Joe Clancy, who would make his studio debut on the band's 2015 EP 200 M.P.H.. That same year saw Vardis ink a deal with SPV/Steamhammer and begin work on their much-anticipated comeback LP. Sadly, Horbury passed away in late December after short battle with cancer. The resulting Red Eye, the band's fifth studio long player, dropped in early 2016.