Redemption Denied

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Band Name Steel Seal
Album Name Redemption Denied
Type Album
Released date 2010
Music StylePower Metal
Members owning this album5


1. Burn the Sky
2. Time Stood Still
3. Crown of Thorns
4. Holy Thursday
5. Victory in Black
6. Nevermore
7. Call to Roll
8. Lord of the Flies
9. Evening Star
10. As Darkness Falls
11. Afterlude in D

Review @ Italianpowerfan

11 October 2011

A really excellent album, further than one step beyond!

No more surprises but confirmations and a further improvement from the Italian band Steel Seal. That after the outstanding 2007 debut album By the Power of Thunder are now out with their sophomore effort Redemption Denied: a really excellent album, a great proof of artistic maturity and expressive capability.
The line-up of the band has changed because only the guitarist Marco Valerio Zangani and the drummer Luca Iovieno are still part of the band, while Adriano Rossi and Roberto Fasciani have replaced Fabio Bernardi and Andrea Orciuolo; respectively, on keyboards and bass. But the music is substantially still the same fusion of traditional hard-rock, classic heavy-metal and contemporary neo-classical power metal, with great melodies and nice inserts of classical music. The same components of the first album, but combined in a different way with a different final result. If By the Power of Thunder had power metal as the prevailing inspiration, here it's hard rock and classic heavy metal to prevail and the resulting mixture has the pleasant flavour of a great melodic metal album.

Keyboards have the same key role than on the first album but rhythm guitar is now to the fore and more high-powered and drums sound more potent and incisive. As a result, Redemption Denied sounds more direct and aggressive than the debut album, so that bass guitar can perform more elaborate parts and sometimes even display some preciosities. As on the debut album the production, made at the Outer Sound Studios in Rome, is excellent and one instrument does not overpower the other, so that all the 11 songs sound very well balanced.

And as the icing on the cake, this time too Steel Seal have a star of the worldwide metal scene behind the microphone. If on the debut album the vocal parts were by DC Cooper, on Redemption Denied it's the Swedish vocalist Thomas Vikstrom (Candlemass, Brazen Abbot, Stormwind, Therion) to embroider well-chosen melodies and choruses on the powerful rhythm pad of the songs. Together with the remarkable lyrics (resulting as usual from well-known verses of British and American classical poets adapted to flow well with the vocals). Vikstrom's high-level performances surely concur in a high degree to give the album the decisive push towards the Hall of Fame of metal, where Redemption Denied could worthily find place because of the quality of the songs.

Also this time, and even more than for By the Power of Thunder, what impressed me most is in fact the very high compositive standard - as a result of which, almost each of the songs has been recommended as the best of the album by one review or the other of the many published up to now. The few non-positive evaluations, focused on the assumption that the album sounds "clichéd", miss the difference between that word and "classic": though clearly adhering to established principles and styles in metal music, Steel Seal's songs are typical, not predictable, metal tracks. Songs like the opener Burn the Sky, the up-tempos Crown of Thorns and Victory in Black, the touching ballad Nevermore, the granitic mid-tempos Lord of the Flies and Time Stood Still (no less than the new Stargazer, according to many reviews...), or the variegated Evening Star and As Darkness Falls sound fresh and engaging, involving and passionate, never hackneyed or uninspired... and after all, if you prefer, they are simply very beautiful songs.

To my ears, Redemption Denied sounds powerful and energetic, very tense and rich in emotional charge, brilliant in the instrumental parts. Intense and profound in the lyrics, and very well conceived and produced. Further than one step beyond the opera prima By the Power of Thunder, despite of its unquestionable goodness. My ranking: 19/20.

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