Released: 2002, Underground Symphony
Formed in 1996 this is the fourth disc by this Italian power metal five piece and a fifth is on the way! I can honestly say I have NEVER heard a bad release on the Underground Symphony label and SOS meets all the criteria in my scale to be a wickedly, awesome power metal band.
The bands name is a cool twist on a traditional name and the lead singers name is ‘Wild Steel’. It that f**ckin’ cool is that? Very cool in my book! The cover is gorgeous and mystifying in a Corben-esque style adding to the pro-image of the band. Longtime fans will be glad to learn the ‘mask’ is still present, the band’s symbol as it were.
SOS play a very popular style of symphonic metal with progressive elements and an emphasis on speed. The quality of musicianship is superb, the singing high and clear but oddly enough quite far back in the mix I felt. In fact the whole CD suffered ever so slightly from a low mix and a bit thin quiet production. No bad but it could have been more robust with the bass and drums.
There are lots of great solos scattered throughout the fast songs driven by the obligatory double-kick. The Italian ‘happy’ riff sound is fully present the epic feel is enhanced by big back-up vocals. Keyboard solos help fill out the sound inter-spliced with the fret-board wizardry. These guys would fit well on a bill with Labyrinth, Vision Divine and so on.
My thoughts on this are the same as in my Power Quest review. Is this new and original? Not really. Is it sterling performance and execution of the style? Yes! Fans will be very pleased. I believe to my sheer delight that Underground Symphony has picked up some distribution (in Canada at least) so it might be easier to find. Check out my reviews of two other bands (Power Quest and Mesmerize) on this label and visit their site at http://www.shadowsofsteel.com