Shadows Of Steel - Shadows Of Steel


Year of Release: 1998
Label: Underground Symphony
Catalog Number: US CD-024
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:01:00

If you look at the cover art of this Italian band's disc, you immediately think that there has to be something special inside. It has one of those fancy, colorful, fantasical paintings on it much like Rhasody and I like to think that bands who go to this much trouble to doll up their graphics also has to put much emphasis in their playing. Also, there are 2 players in this band from Labyrinth, Olaf Thorsen (guitarist) and Frank Andiver (drums) who also produced the Labyrinth disc as well as the Shadows of Steel disc. Anyone who is familiar with the Labyrinth recordings have a good idea of what the recording sounds like on this disc. Lastly, before the review, I would like to take a moment to point out that the picture of the singer uncannily resembles a certain famed singer, namely Midnight (Crimson Glory). From the long curly hair, to the leather jacket, to the full, white "phantom" mask, you have an idea of who this singer has been listening to. As far as the music, here is what I am hearing:

THE STYLE:

The music is symphonic, melodic metal which can get very speedy at times. They incorporate keyboards into their sound, but basically for background atmosphere among the dual guitars that drive the sound. At times they get speedy like Labyrinth, at times they slow it down to a crawl and play very melodic ballads, and then other times they play a straight-ahead type melodic metal. This is one of the interesting things about the band; that they like to break it up whenever they can. Rather than play 12 songs worth of typical speed metal, the band opts to approach their music from different angles, instead of boring the listener with the same style song after song. There is no doubt that they like their speed, but they also seem to like their emotional ballads. There aren't too many Italian bands out there that can play a good, steady diet of speedy metal, but this band seems to thrive on it. However, when I think of speed metal, I tend to think of double bass runs all the way, and this band does not use that approach. Instead, they play metal that is "speedy," rather than "speed metal." It's not a constant barrage of drum runs and guitar-shredding riffs, but more like music that is sped up within their own style.

THE BAND:

This is much like Labyrinth, with twin guitars, drums, bass, keyboard and vocals ... again, with 2 of the members from Labyrinth, one being the drummer and one of the guitarists, you pretty much know what you are getting here in the talent dept. The guitars are very well schooled and are the driving force behind this music. The keyboards are primarily used in the background, and on occasion steps up to the plate to introduce the obligatory ballads. Lots of times, the keyboard sound reminds me a bit of the Royal Hunt key sound, in tone and style. The opening intro, called "Countdown" is prime example of this, starting out as a bit of a neo-classical piece and then running right into the opening track, which is a speedy song. The drummer, Frank Andiver, is an excellent drummer, and I hear some nice, Labyrinth-style double bass licks which he was famous for doing on that disc. He tones it down a bit on this disc, but there is no doubt that his skill level far exceeds what he is playing here for this band. In the end, no one single instrument stands out, which is the way it should be, as a cohesive group effort, and this band does well in the talent division. Once again, Italian technology strikes again and I can't hear the bass too well, but it isn't as bad as some other Italian bands that this problem plagues. It is not bass shy, but maybe because the bass is integrated so well with the other instruments, it is harder to pick out what the bass player is doing, as is the case with most speed bands.

THE VOCALS:

This is what will make or break this disc for you. I would imagine that most will have a problem with this singer, not because he can't sing, but because of his unique tone. If you remember when I described him at the beginning, he appears to be a disciple of Midnight. Well, in a sense he is. Going by the name of Wild Steel, he has a voice that combines the tonal qualities of Dwight Hill (Divine Regale), and certainly the range of Midnight (Crimson Glory). If you can imagine what those two combined would sound like, then you have an excellent idea of what Wild Steel sounds like. I know that a lot of people had problems with Dwight Hill's tonal quality, and therefore you will have problems here as well. There is also an accent, not very heavy but there nonetheless, and combine this accent with those listed singers, and you certainly have a unique voice here. It can get high at times, it can get smooth at times, and it can get irritating during some harmonies, and this is all due to his unique tone. I happen to enjoy it because of this uniqueness, but then I enjoy Dwight Hill's sound as well. I would have to say that he resmebles more of Hill than Midnight in tone, but can hit the high notes like Midnight, and in the closing song, "Gone With The Wind," your dog will be running for cover as he shows us exactly what his voice can really do. This can go either way, and I imagine that when more people start to hear this band, the vocals are going to play a factor.

THE PRODUCTION:

Since Frank Andiver produced both Labyrinth and Shadows of Steel, you can imagine what this disc sounds like. Labyrinth is a bit more polished I have to say, and not many bands can come close to the sleek, well-oiled sound of Labyrinth. Instead, Frank opts for a more natural sound this time out, taking out the polished effect and leaving us with a more natural sounding disc. The drums are more natural sounding for sure, and not as prominent as they were in Labyrinth. The guitars sound good, the bass is a little shy in the mix, but I am not sure if this is because of how well it meshes with the guitar sound. The vocals are, as you might expect, up front and super clean. Other than Wild Steel's accent, you would be able to understand every word he is saying. For an Italian band, in which most are plagued with unnatural sounds and styles of recordings, this one is outstanding. Have no fear in the sound dept.

THE COMMENTS:

Overall, this is a very competant, well done piece of music. Love of speedy music is a must, as well as having the capacity to withstand the uniqueness of a singer like Wild Steel. There is no denying the ability of his singing prowess, it's a matter of his tone that will throw some off. If you like melodic, sometimes speedy, metal with the occasional ballad thrown in, this is a good disc to grab onto. In my opinion, it is not essential nor is it going to break any new ground or send anyone to the heavens in amazement, but it's well done and enjoyable. Once again, I caution in the vox dept, because this is one unique sounding individual. Just try to imagine Dwight Hill at an ungodly decibal range, and you pretty much have an idea of what Wild Steel sounds like. A decent listen, and one worth owning in my opinion, just be ready for something different in the singing dept.


Tracklisting:
Countdown (1:23) / Shadows Of Steel (5:26) / The Playing Room IV (7:25) / Journey (3:29) / Out Of The Darkness (3:51) / The Island (4:11) / Storied Windows (4:42) / Winterland (3:28) / Day As Lions (4:31) / Fly Away (5:27) / Kingdom (4:28) / Gone With The Wind (4:40)

Musicians:
Wild Steel - vocals
Steve Vawamas - bass
Andr? La Fisic - guitars
Gianca - drums
Andrew Mc Pauls - keyboards
Frank Andiver - drums
Olaf Th?rsen - guitars
Chris Breeze - bass

Discography:
Demo (1996)
Shadows Of Steel (1997)
Twilight (1998)
Heroes (2000)
Second Floor (2001)

Genre: Melodic Metal

Origin IT

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.shadowsofsteel.com
Hits: 1820
Language: english

  

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