|Review: Steel Attack - Enslaved|
Label: Arise Records
Year released: 2004
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: October 11, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 3.58/5 (71.67%) (12 Votes)
Steel Attack have always been a good second-tier band. They wrote fun, speedy fantasy Power Metal songs and had a good time doing it, and even if they were not the best band out there, they were a solid B-grade act. Dependable. Well that's all out the window with "Enslaved", and this sounds like a whole new band. That's mostly a good thing, and even if there are things about this disc I don't like, it's still a big step forward.
If I had not listened to a sample track I never would have gotten this, as the art design and layout screams 'crap!' with some bad B&W photos of crucifixes and a horrible new logo. Maybe Steel Attack wanted to retool their logo, fine, but they didn't, they just stole the logo from new singer Ronny Hemlin's old band Lack Of Faith. They not only stole their logo and their singer, they also seemingly let Hemlin write all the lyrics, as this album has nothing to do with the dragon-fantasy themes of the old material. This is arty, serious 'crisis of faith' stuff that I have to say I really despise. It may be more serious and mature than the old lyrical direction, but I fucking hate it. And I bet it is going to lead down the road to mallcore in the future. Mark me: if SA keep this lyrical direction, they will be a religious mallcore band in two albums at the most.
But beyond that stuff, there is nothing to argue with on this album, the riffs are amazing, crunchy and fast, the songs are memorable and hooky, and the addition of wailer/pipsqueak Hemlin may have gutted the lyrics, but he is a singer of a caliber this band has never had before. It was bugging me for a week who he sounds like, until I realized that he sounds a LOT like Daniel Heiman of Lost Horizon. Now he's not as good as Heiman, but his tone, his phrasing and diction bear just an amazing resemblance. He's even bald, so I wonder if the similarity might be intentional. Anyway, whatever I think of his lyrics, the man rules, and his addition alone puts Steel Attack on a level with bands like Primal Fear and Dream Evil. They have never had a singer this good, and they have never written an album this good.
So "Enslaved" just kicks all kinds of ass. Not every song is a killer, but with awesome cuts like "Gates Of Heaven", "Immortal Hate" and the title track, there is nothing musically to complain about here. If you never liked Steel Attack before, then give this one a chance to impress you - it will. But if you liked Steel Attack just fine before, you will mourn for the band that was, as this is not really the same band as before.
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