A nice surprise indeed, the debut CD of this band from Rome
– Italy! An enjoyable, solid melodic metal album that combines 70's hard-rock flavour (Deep Purple
) with classic heavy-metal influences (Black Sabbath
with Tony Martin
) and contemporary neo-classical power metal (J.Y. Malmsteen, Stratovarius
) for good measure.
Keyboards really give this band a unique identity: the rock organ is used as a main instrument throughout most of the songs, synth reed wave sounds appear on some of the solos as well as piano in some intros and here and there in the tracks. The guitars also play a key role because of their imaginative and powerful riffing and their neo-classical work always keeps the melody flowing, as the solos are very melodic and often compliment the keyboards. The drums are another strong point of the album. Steel Seal
prefer a very driving double bass beat to ensure speed and power to their songs: as I read somewhere, they really give the listener something to stomp their foot to while tapping their fingers. The production is excellent and every instrument is well balanced, so one instrument does not overpower the other.
In addition, the vocalist singing on this release is none other than DC Cooper
. The final result benefits a lot from his outstanding vocals: Cooper is in splendid form and sings with power and clarity while maintaining excellent control when singing in various octave ranges. His performances with Steel Seal
are at least as good as the ones with Royal Hunt
and Silent Force
and surely help to elevate the album to be something special in the present power metal scene.
Another highlight of the album is that the lyrics of the songs are also remarkable. Most of contemporary melodic metal albums generally have lyrics that can be easily ignored; here, on the contrary, they're very well written, resulting from well-known verses of British and American classical poets adapted to flow well with the vocals.
But what impressed me most is the quality of the songs. The whole album shows a really high compositive standard: almost all the songs are good and remarkable and there aren’t (many) filler tracks included beside (few) potential hits, as you can see so often nowadays. Surely above the average of the today’s power metal productions, in my opinion. My personal favourite songs are the opener Anger Storm
, the neoclassical When the Devil
Calls, the Dio
-flavoured Townrazer and the touching final ballad Crying my Heart
away, but everyone can really find his own song in the 9 tracks of the album (10 in the Japanese release, including the bonus track Battle’s Eve): as an instance, the other ballad Sun and Steel, or Roncesvalles’ Day with its catchy refrain, or the really theatrical Theatre of Pain
, or the powerful mid-tempo If…
If an imperfection can be found in this release, it is the maybe excessive lenght of some tracks: sometimes more conciseness would have helped, but it’s a minor error in a really interesting piece of work. In conclusion, an outstanding, first-class opera prima for a promising new band: a must for all hard rock and power metal fans, a good chance for the others to start enjoying this kind of music. My ranking: 18/20.