Album Reviews

Steelwing – Zone of Alienation Review

Released by: NoiseArt Records

Release Date: Out Now!!!

Genre: Heavy Metal

Links: https://www.facebook.com/steelwingmetal

 

Line Up:

Riley – Vocals

Robby Rockbag – Guitars

Alex Vega – Guitars

Nic Savage – Bass

Oskar – Drums

 

Tracklist:

01. 2097 A.D.

02. Solar wind riders

03. Full speed ahead!

04. Breathless

05. Tokkotai (Wind of fury)

06. Zone of alienation

07. The running man

08. They came from the skies

09. Lunacy rising

10. 2097 A.D. (Extended Cut) (bonus track)

11. Hit ’em hard (2010 Demo) (bonus track)

 

Sweden’s answer to the current crop of Traditional Heavy Metal and NWOBHM revivalists STEELWING have returned two years after their much discussed debut with a new full-length release that certainly shows growth and improvement, but is it enough?

Well, the short answer is “not quite”. But before we get too negative let’s have a look at what been improved in the last year and a bit. The most noticeable improvement is in vocalist Riley, who I personally felt was quite ordinary on their previous outing. He still has a means to go before anybody will be willing to compare him to any of the greats of the genre, but his high-pitched banshee squeal has been improved ten-fold this time around and his English phrasing is also much, much better. The overall songwriting has also had an overhaul and while the previous album felt at times like a sort of tongue-in-cheek tribute to the classic metal genre, ZONE OF ALIENATION has a much more convincing overall style. The loose sci-fi concept running through the tracks and the artwork also help to give this album a much more thought out feel. Which brings me to one more real high-point of this release… The totally outstanding fantasy/sci-fi cover artwork courtesy of artist Dimitar Nikolov, seriously even though it’s still only January I am convinced this will be one of the best metal album covers of the year, and the band’s logo fits in with the overall theme perfectly.

Now for a few niggles… Firstly I have a slight problem with some of the lead-guitar work. Don’t get me wrong, I think the stringsters in STEELWING are all great musicians, but there were just a few occasions where the lead-breaks felt like they had a few too many notes and actually ended up chasing the melody rather than playing alongside it. I also felt that the lead vocals where a touch too high in the mix, and when you combine that with the fact that singer Riley is still growing it led to a few sore moments. These may sound like minor niggles, and they are, but these are the little things that separate the good releases from the great ones so they are definitely worthy of a mention.

 

While ZONE OF ALIENATION doesn’t do enough to scare the big boys of the trad metal genre, there’s definitely a marked improvement from their previous effort, and if the band can continue to develop and grow, and the production can be smoothed out a little more STEELWING may well just have a classic album up their sleeve just waiting to come out. Until then though, fans of SAXON, IRON MAIDEN and DIAMOND HEAD should begin paying attention to these up-and-coming hopefuls.

 

Written by Zeezee

Ratings    Zeezee    7/10

 

 

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