Shadows Of Steel - Twilight


Year of Release: 1998
Label: Underground Symphony
Catalog Number: USCD-030
Format: CD
Total Time: 39:21:00

The Italian, symphonic speedsters are back - with better songs, better performance, and better production than on their last disc Shadows of Steel. Unfortunately, someone made some strange decisions in the Shadows Of Steel camp regarding the content of this otherwise great disc. It's a double-CD set, with 4 songs on the first disc, clocking in at about 20:00 including a re-mixed version of a song found on their first disc. The second disc, cloking in at about another 20:00, is comprised of cover songs in a tribute to influences ranging from Crimson Glory to Agents of Steel. That means that the band released a 2-CD set with music totalling 40 minutes, on a beautifully crafted digi-pak set that obviously set someone back a few bucks. I question the wisdom of a move like this, unless the label had some extra cash hanging around, but I know that this band has a lot more to offer than some re-hashed cover tunes even though they are played superbly. Other than the strange economical decision to produce a disc like this, the music is first rate if you like that huge, Italian symphonic sound played at the speed of light.

THE STYLE:

Most of the time, the band is hell bent on playing their brand of metal at the speed of light, complete with machine gun double bass runs and chugging-a-million-miles-an-hour guitar chunks as well surrounded by keyboards and soaring, high pitched vocals. Disc 1 contains their signature style I speak of above, although 2 of the songs show them at their slowed down best, where I believe this band shines. If you can imagine Crimson Glory's "Painted Skies," which they actually cover here, to perfection I might add, it's in this slowed down pace that the band sounds at their best to me. You can really hear the precision and tightness of the band as compared to the almost out of control performance on their faster songs. It's hard to get a feel for the band based solely on this particular disc because it is varied, but going back to the first disc, it's quite obvious that the band wants to let loose and kick it into high gear with the speed. It can get a bit monotonous at times, unless you don't mind that constant speed. They do break it up a bit, but not enough to convince that they want to stay in this slow area as a rule. The cover songs they chose to cover are actually slower than normal for this band, and you do get a different idea of what this band can really do when they want to diversify, except that you've already heard these songs by the original bands. (strange approach )

THE BAND:

All of the originals are back - if these are the originals. The band had about 10 different musicians on the first disc chipping in, so I will list the ones on this disc that remain from that lineup.

Wild Steel / vocals (yes, this is true)
Andrea Torricini / bass
Steve Vawamas / bass
Andrew McPauls / keyboards
Vic Mazzoni / Guitars
Frank Andiver / drums (Helreid and Black Jester ?) [Labyrinth? ed. PW]

Strangely, the gentlman who produced this disc is also credited with the entire writing credits on the first disc. He also wrote and produced the first disc. Is this the man otherwise known as Wild Steel or just a very creative producer ? The band is well equipped for any kind of metal it appears, with the drummer being one of the standouts, another unusual for me to notice a drummer right off the bat. If Frank Andiver is indeed the ex-drummer for Helreid and Black Jester, then it's easy to hear why he stands out due to the extreme diversity of those other bands. He can keep it to a slow crawl, or he can kick it in Rhapsody style in the blink of an eye. The bass players (both of them) chug along with the speedy guitars easily. The keyboards are mainly used for background sounds; his use of a harpsicord sound at times really sounds "regal" as I like to call it, and gives me reminders of another Italian great keyboard player named Eddy Antonini. The guitarist is more of a straight ahead"metal" type player, with typical metal chops and it appears that he listens to a lot of "pure metal" like Agents of Steel. He is quite adaptable, however, and does get into it, although more along the rhythm than the solos.

THE VOCALS:

It's no secret who Wild Steel's main influence is. From the super high pitched, soaring vocals, to the white mask that covers his face, to the leather type outfits he wears, he's got Midnight genes for sure. I don't have a problem with anyone emulating another influence, but it has to be done right. Unfortunately for most, Mr. Steel will annoy with his super high range, covered with an Italian accent and most importantly, a bit out of control. I would guess that with a proper teacher, this guy could easily pass for the next Midnight on a Crimson Glory disc. His range his super high, and when he does sing in a normal range, his accent is easily heard and could turn some off by this. If you have a problem with someone singing CG's "Painted Skies" with a thick accent, then you won't want to go here. Interestingly enough, the song is pulled off superbly, and quite exquisitely right down to the last note of one of my favorite CG songs. Wild can also song the "metal" tunes, and handles John Cyris' parts on Agents of Steel with ease. If someone spent some money on more training and control of his voice rather than on fancy artwork and cover tunes, this guy would easily be one of the best. I have no problem with his style or sound, but these factors will come into play as you listen to Shadow of Steel for any length of time. Could it be that Andrea De Stefanis IS Mr. Wild Steel ?

THE PRODUCTION:

Absolutely brilliant. Along with spending serious money on artwork, someone plunked down some cash for great sound, and this disc excels in that area. Mr. De Stefanis, who produced this disc and their first disc, is a master at quality sound. I would have to venture on and say that this sound surpasses Helreid's and Eldrtich's sound in terms of precision and clarity. Those bands truly exemplify what Italian bands should sound like, but Shadows of Steel sound is a lesson in tweaking, and will make your stereo scream with superb sound. The drums are probably the best sounding drums I've heard from an Italian band, maybe even up there with the best drum recordings I've heard. This could also be the reason that the drum performance stood out. The vocals are also way up front in the mix, but never get upstaged by the great drum sound; a lesson in button tweaking for sure. The botton end is thick and bulky, and does not fail to kick in that sub and rattle some walls, but it's tight and accurate as compared to normal boomy, muddy Italian bass. If you could find fault, it might be in the guitar area, but even then, I suspect that the sound they achieve from the guitar is one desired. It's not crunchy, not too heavy, but still a heavy contributor to the overall sound. It would be mind blowing if the guy who turned the buttons on the rest of the disc was responsible for a slight mishap with the guitar sound, so I will attribute that to the desired affect.

THE COMMENTS:

Being a fan of the band, and most Italian music in general, I really enjoy the regal sounds of this band, even though you could easily pick apart small artifacts that will irritate most people. However, there is no denying that the music and sound are great, but whether or not you want to shell out your hard earned cash for some cover tunes and a re-mixed previous tune will be up to how much you liked the first disc. I recommend starting with the first disc to give you an idea of what the band can do on it's own. It's great to do some tribute work, but a band this early in it's career needs to concentrate on home grown music, and leave the tributes to established bands that can afford to slack off a bit. Be ready for some speedy, melodic, symphonic prog metal done up Italian style otherwise.


Tracklisting:
Disc One: Hawk And Lion (6:26) / Twilight (3:04) / Goodbye (4:20) / Fly Away (5:31)

Disc Two: Destination Unknown (4:56) / Prelusion (2:04) / Run For Tomorrow (4:25) / Painted Skies (5:08) / The Calling (0:27) / Agent Of Steel (3:00)

Musicians:
Wild Steel - vocals
Andrea Torricini - bass
Steve Vawamas - bass
Andrew McPauls - keyboards
Vic Mazzoni - guitars
Frank Andiver - drums

Discography:
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: 856
Language: english

  

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