Released: 2011, StormSpell Records
Not many of us remember the short-lived Indianna band Phantom Witch. The only reason I ever heard of Phantom Witch Is because I happen to have an old EP by them and to be honest I have not listened to it in years. It wasn’t that earth-shattering. So in the words of Helloween, time marches on and Phantom Witch has become Steel Aggressor. After an independent debut EP, the band signed with StormSpell Records and released their debut full-length studio album, FROM RUINS TO DUST.
The package is very nice sporting another good album cover by fantasy artist, Alan Lathwell who has done work for several other StormSpell bands like Xinr, Horde and Ancient Cross. The booklet is very well done and is a limited edition hand-numbered run of 1000.
The power trio of Steel Aggressor waste no time and dive right into a short 39 minute albums with seven songs of traditional metal, maybe even with some tiny hints of thrash as well. It’s hard to blend power Metal and thrash but they do it very well. FROM RUINS TO DUST is heavier than one might expect with fewer frills (such as keyboards, interludes, narration, acoustic segments, and sound effects) that are found on many other more traditional Power Metal albums. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all those things very much but Steel Aggressor eschews all the extraneous sound and goes right for the kill with a pounding hammer to the skull. The vocals of Rick Cope, who also handles guitar, are pretty rough and low, no high notes, he just roars it out as much as sings but he does show a bit more range on songs like the title cut where he does go into a higher register. I actually like that sound as much as his lower gruffer style. The pace is mid to fast with good galloping Maiden beats charging along to accompany the lyrics of battles of steel and glory.
If you enjoy no nonsense, classic, US Power Metal like Manilla Road, Burning Starr laced with a hint more aggression of early thrash, for example bands like Omen, then I feel you will enjoy Steel Aggressor.