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Keeler - 90%

SweetLeaf95, April 15th, 2018

The fact that it took me as long as it did to happen upon this is quite a tragedy, because I could have been enjoying these ghosts of Christmases yet to come for years. Folks, what we've got in front of us is a solid heavy metal record that pushes no odd limits beyond the essentials, yet delivers some of the tightest songs and strongest output that Ron Keel and Yngwie Malmsteen would cook up. Steeler would be the only effort that they put forth, but fortunately all of the band members led some awesome careers to follow this, as well as many other collaborations.

Power and fury assault the ears right off the bat, with the firm opener known as "Cold Day In Hell", driving crunchy dirty guitars overlaid by clean singing with a raspy edge. Ron Keel has a unique voice of his own, and I could tell it was him without even checking upon first listen. A nice feature is that it's fitting for the heavy hitters as well as the slower ballady numbers alike (not that there are really any full on ballads here anyway). "No Way Out" exhibits some of his best ability, with a calmer tone to it, letting his vocal harmony shine. Plus, not to mention the high notes in the outro to go along with the guitar exiting the song. Of course, right afterward, we get nailed with the shred happy intro to "Hot On Your Heels", giving Malmsteen his time to shine for a solid couple of minutes. This then builds into a heavy rocker that rides along the formula that's mostly used through this whole release.

What's more important than being able to play really well is the ability to write, and that's present everywhere. There isn't a whole lot of variation on here other than some of the intros and interludes that may go acoustic for a minute, but every ounce of this record absolutely kicks. The way that the rhythm sections are composed with strong, tapping solos to ride parallel with them go together like beer and pizza. The simplistic drumming, while some would see as a problem, actually serves as a better beat-keeper with minimal complexity, rather drenching the record with insane drum lines that make it a little too much. The lyrics are pretty sweet too, taking the "sex and partying" route without coming off as corny. Everything about how the tunes are composed is stellar.

The most important thing to walk away with this album is knowing that it doesn't take glamour and constant variation or anything extra to create great music; just the ability to write. Granted, the skill that the musicians in Steeler posses are definitely advanced, which gives this a great deal of help, but that's beside the point. I like to consider this an essential, one that I've been missing the majority of my life, and it is highly recommended to those who haven't given it a listen yet.