Released: 2012, Pure Steel
The relatively new label, Pure Steel (and it’s affiliates Pure Rock, Pure Prog, Pure Legends etc), is rapidly becoming one of my favourite Metal record labels. In light of a number of great releases and the high quality from the label, I want to do a little feature and look back at seven PURE STEEL albums from 2012 you may have missed including Alltheniko, Custard, In Aevum Agere, Phantom X, Power Theory, StormRider and Sleepy Hollow. Please feel to enjoy the reviews of all these fine releases in our Pure Steel feature, as well as previous published reviews of New Eden, Emerald and Axehammer.
Some people are critical of a band that sounds too similar of another band. That has never been an issue for me. If there is a band I like the sound of, I want MORE bands that sound just like them, not less! Stormrider band has been around for over a decade and they certainly do have a very large debt of gratitude to Iced Earth. The influences are very overt even down to the fact that the new StormRider album, THE PATH OF SALVATION is a concept album about Dante’s Inferno, a topic covered previously by Iced Earth on the 16-minute epic also called ‘Dante’s Inferno’ found on the BURNT OFFERINGS album from 1995. If you are going to emulate someone, it might as well be one of the best!
THE PATH OF SALVATION is the third album from this German quintet who have been around for about a decade and it is a very strong record. The band has a cool logo (I’m a sucker for a logo with a sword built in) and the cover art is very awesome showing a spiral staircase descending into the inferno below. The band lost their drummer in the period in between albums but they picked up ex-Blind Guardian, current Savage Circus drummer Thomen Stauch to lay down the drum tracks for the album and he puts in a magnificent performance. The whole album is fast, drum-heavy and double kick propelled in many places and galloping beats everywhere on every song it seems. It’s fast like, well… old Iced Earth.
The vocals of Stefan Hebes are much like Matt Barlow in terms of style and delivery. He has a very strong voice, powerful and dominating with lots of drama in his singing. His performance on ‘Circle of Betrayers’ is top-notch. The riffs and songs all thunder along, quite relentlessly and the whole album pounds along for 55 minutes that seem to blur by. The performances and production are all above par, the musicianship shining on these fairly traditionally arranged songs. There is very little, if any, extra instrumentation, just straight up driving Metal, in fact the whole album is pretty intense!
It is a drab way to describe a band to compare it another band bands but the Iced Earth comparison is undeniable. Depending on your preference for that band and your tolerance for bands that sound like other bands, you may want to give THE PATH TO SALVATION a miss. If you are like me and wish Iced Earth would go back to the Stormrider/early Barlow era, then you are going to absolutely LOVE this record.