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Review: Powerdrive - Steel Roots
Steel Roots

Label: Independent
Year released: 2008
Duration: 63:01
Tracks: 15
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal

Rating: 3.5/5

Review online: December 2, 2008
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Steel Roots


Made up of members from Spain and Sweden, Powerdrive is a relative newcomer presenting here their debut album and man, it is loaded.  That's both good and bad.  Lots of variety to go around, but in terms of "volume", the album is too long for its own good.  They could have cut a good 15 minutes off this and the overall listening experience would have been better.  As it is, at some point I often tell myself "this is not over yet?"  Not that the music is bad - far from that, but the album does feel long.

Now that my main criticism is out of the way, let's get to the meat.  Steel Roots is a mix of 80s-style Heavy Metal and more modern Heavy/Power Metal - that's the backbone of the music, and to this you can add a few thrashy moments, as well as - unfortunately - a few industrial and metalcore-influenced passages.  Not too much of that, thankfully, but noticeable enough.  Clean vocals are of course the vocal style used here, varying from very melodic (at times I was reminded a little bit of Jon Bon Jovi - hey, sit down, it's not like the guy sounds like a copycat) to more aggressive when not downright harsh.  As a whole, the vocal performance is pretty damn good, although there are times when the melodies get repetitive to the point of getting on one's nerves.  Incidentally, this happens on the few songs that they could very well have taken out to make this a shorter, better album.

The music is often driven by the vocals melodies, rather than the other way around, although just like everything in Steel Roots, this varies.  A couple of power ballads, more than a few rocking, high-octane rockers, a couple of thrashy speedsters and some heavyweight, crushing numbers are on display here, mostly with some interesting guitar work (when they steer clear of the metalcore-isms).  There's often a bit of a sense of déjà vu, but Powerdrive have enough of their own sound to reduce that to a shady feeling and nothing more.

Definitely a good first effort, but it does sound like they tried to do too much, and could really have a winner by streamlining the formula on the next album.  Despite the shortcomings, Steel Roots is a pretty solid album that shows what the band is capable of, and can certainly act as a good ambassador in the hunt for a record label.

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