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The band's name says it all. - 86%

hells_unicorn, August 23rd, 2008

I’ve often been lectured by would be connoisseurs of all things metal that all of the retro-80s metal bands out there are a waste of time; it’s all been done already and just stick to the classics. The problem with this rather obtuse mode of thought is that it fails to account for the obvious fact that none of the songs on these albums had been written before, regardless of their stylistic trappings. I for one think we didn’t get enough out of the 80s and was royally pissed off about so many bands that made the original classics putting out crappy alternative rock or groove metal. Besides, the number of albums that actually qualify as classics in the eyes of these so called experts are so small in number that their lives as music listeners must be loaded with repetitive monotony and tired orthodoxy, which is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I bring this all up because when I first began blasting this album out of my computer, it screamed out its unapologetic worship of all things 80s. Each and every one of these songs could have been heard at some point between 1981 and 1986, but they weren’t, so the proper response to this for the fans of Diamond Head and Judas Priest is “better late than never”. One should take note that no self-produced band from the era when this music was popular would have ever gotten a sound this clean and crisp, and even in comparison to a lot of unsigned bands today, this is a pretty solid production job. It’s also interesting that although the band exhibits a musical character very befitting of 80s NWOBHM, the lyrics hold true to the old German ideal first established by Accept and the Scorpions of getting chicks and politics.

Naturally with a name like Metalsteel it’s easy to write this off as just another Manowar style of “praise the Gods of metal” power metal like Hammerfall, Dream Evil or Metalium, but what actually is on here is a lot closer to Accept’s “Russian Roulette” or Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave”. The band does not play constant speed metal, nor do they fall into the standard practice of totally emphasizing the chorus in a song. Everything is largely guitar driven, with a particular emphasis on riff development and frequent lead breaks. It still falls into the realm of melodic music, but the slow chord changes peculiar to many European melodic and power metal outfits is largely absent from the well of ideas being drawn from here.

Much of this tends to be lighthearted and fun, as is typical to the early NWOBHM style. Up tempo rockers like the title track “Bad In Bed” and “Heavy Metal Girls” chuck some wicked riffs around, but manage to also fall into that category of song that you couldn’t help but find yourself singing along with, not all that dissimilar from classic Twisted Sister hits like “I Wanna Rock” and “SMF”. In just about all these songs bassist Matej Susnik is about as active as your typical Steve Harris emulator, but right after the principle guitar solo section of “Free Your Mind”, which is probably the most aggressive song here riff wise as well, he lets off this crazy Joey Demaio style bass shred line that is about as impressive as they come.

The band also pulls out a bunch of curveball ideas also conducive to the greater 80s metal sound, but still manage to come off as unexpected. “White Circle” reeks of early 80s pre-thrash speed metal, particularly of the Judas Priest variety, while vocalist Beni Kic pulls off a pretty decent version of Ray Adler’s brand of high end wailing; he tends to actually sound a lot like the famed Fates Warning vocalist throughout the album. “Summon The Beast” almost listens like a homage to “2 Minutes To Midnight” before it draws on a more atmospheric approach and then some abrupt tempo shifts. Basically everything from the beginning on kicks ass as only 80s metal can until we get to the last track, which is a kind of lame acoustic ballad with this really annoying harmonica intro. I don’t know if the band thought the album needed a helping of Warrant/Faster Pussycat style lameness to make it complete or what, but it definitely sounds completely out of place, not to mention grating.

Nonetheless, anyone who can appreciate the delightful blend of hard edged riffing and happy go lucky melodic goodness that was unapologetically espoused by the likes of 80s Judas Priest, Grim Reaper, Riot, Iron Maiden and Saxon will go for this. As far as this style of metal goes for Slovenia, this is the best I’ve heard thus far, though admittedly I have little to go on. Good old fashioned heavy metal is great even when it’s deemed to be no longer fashionable by the masses and even the elite of the metal scene itself, and if a handful of promising and highly skilled musicians from Eastern Europe can understand that, perhaps the rest of us can too.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on August 23, 2008.