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Hailing from Milan, the five-piece Vanadium were one of Italy's first successful heavy metal bands, releasing a string of quite popular LPs throughout the early '80s before being outpaced by a quickly evolving national scene as the decade wore on. In fact, the second half of their career saw a creatively weakened Vanadium rudely subjected to both ridicule and scorn by the next generation of Italian heavy metal bands, most of whom failed to realize the older band's hokey stage banter and, at times, less than professional-sounding recordings were the result of their own country's nonexistent independent music industry infrastructure, never mind the absence of readily available peers or role models in those pre-MTV days. The hearts of founding Vanadium members Pino Scotto di Carlo (vocals), Claudio Acquini (guitar), Ruggero Zanolini (keyboards), Domenico "Mimmo" Prantera (bass), and Lio Mascheroni (drums) were certainly in the right place when they molded their "guitar and keyboards" style of heavy metal on that of '70s heavyweights like Deep Purple and Rainbow, and named themselves after a "heavy metal" found in the periodic table of elements. The fact that vanadium is in fact a soft, ductile element, mainly used to produce certain alloys (hence the band's amusing choice of a wrench for their emblem) obviously escaped them, and was later used by critics as evidence of their terminal haplessness -- but Vanadium's 1982 debut, Metal Rock, though uneven and rough-hewn, was a respectable first try by the day's (and their country's) modest standards. It was quickly followed and overshadowed by far more accomplished and confident efforts like 1983's A Race with the Devil and 1984's Game Over, both of which showed off the musicians' undeniable technical chops, benefited from hotshot new guitar find Steve Tessarin (born Stefano Tessarin), and reportedly sold as much as 50,000 copies each -- again, a huge sum by period standards.


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