Released: 2012, High Roller
It is funny how our pre-conceived notion of how we anticipate or expect music to be and how it can alter our perception of an album. For example, I was really looking forward to Steel Assassins second album WW II:METAL OF HONOR. For whatever reason I had scrambled the track sequence on my iPod and the first song I heard was called ‘Bastogne’. By total coincidence it is a melodic rocker of a song with an odd intro spoken/narration vocal and in my opinion the weakest song on the album. It is very uncharacteristic of the bands whole sound, I should know because I have FROM THE VAULTS and WAR OF THE EIGHT SAINTS. I was thinking to myself, “What the hell? I hope the whole album isn’t like this! They’ve changed!” Shock! Horror! We Metalheads don’t like change. The rest of the album is just killer True, Pure, Power like the last album but for a minute there it was heart-stopping! Then I asked myself, “Why would they put this weak song as the opening cut? It doesn’t make sense when there are seven other fast have songs that could be the opening track.” I knew they wouldn’t put the Rush cover as the opening song; that would be just dumb. Once I got it all figured out, sequenced things properly it all wipes the slate clean. As I said, it’s hard to avoid those expectations in music, namely in Metal ya gotta start your album with a fast, heavy song preferably with a mighty scream!
We have reviewed both the aforementioned Steel Assassin albums on this site so if you want the history lesson, go read those reviews. As it stands WW II:METAL OF HONOR is the second studio album, but they have had a number of compilations and demos from back in the 80’s. The band is now at home on the excellent High Roller label. It’s a nine-cut album with a World War II theme with each song covering a battle or campaign from the war. Maybe the band lacks a little bit of originality, World War II themes are nothing new (Sabaton makes an entire career of it) and the title is the same as the second TT QUICK album from 1986. However, I like thematic albums and they do a great job. The aforementioned Rush cover is ‘Red Sector A’ and it is a perfect as the original lyrics speak about the experience of being in a concentration camp or perhaps prison depending on your interpretation. Metal bands covering Rush are rare but Steel Assassin do a fantastic job on this song.
The album opens with ‘God Save London’ a song about the blitz and yes, it is fast and heavy and far more appropriate of an opener. The vocals of John Falzone leap tight out of the speakers and hit ya between the eyes. Solos from Curran and Mooney are over the place. The rhythm section keeps it heavy and fast, the whole album really surges along, with the exception of ‘Bastogne’. Not a bad song just out of place among the top-heavy Power of the rest of the album. I love the big cannon sound effects in ‘The Wolfpack’. The band stretches out a bit in the songwriting department wit the nine-minute long song ‘Normandy Angels’ which slows the pace down just a little with some military snare in the opening accompanied by some acoustic guitar, followed by some tasteful, atmospheric soloing, before getting back to the heaviness.
WW II is a great continuation of their career, which is better late than never! I’m not sure this album hit me as hard as the brilliant WAR OF THE EIGHT SAINTS but it is still la very fine follow up and still getting good rotation in my personal playlist.