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Steel Attack
Enslaved
October 2004
Released: 2004, Arise Records
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: EvilG

Steel Attack’s new album ENSLAVED blew me away! I’ve been listening to it steady belt since it showed up in the mail. I have to come clean and mention my reference point with this band. I haven’t heard them since their 2nd album FALL INTO MADNESS. ENSLAVED is actually the fourth album from this Swedish band. At the time of FALL INTO MADNESS, I liked the band, but thought it a bit like ‘junior HammerFall’ and didn’t offer something that would break them out from the second-tier of power metal bands. Well, how things have changed as Steel Attack has reinvented themselves with a much heavier sound. Some close comparisons I can think of are perhaps Eidolon or Lost Horizon, in terms of a reference point of the quality and heaviness factor…not that the bands sound that much alike. The guitar tone on ENSLAVED is brutal. It does not sound like a typical over-produced slick power metal band, but rips, bites, and slices with 100% pure metallic passion and steel. The other big change is in the vocal department. Their previous singers were great and all, but new singer Ronny Hemlin (joined in late 2003) takes Steel Attack to the next level with a powerful voice that has elements of Dickinson & Halford, but does not sound like a copy of any particular vocalist. In a few places he even throws in the occasional death-ish growl.



The album begins with the “Gates of Heaven” and a guitar riff that immediately takes hold and brings that old heavy metal grin to my face. From the opener, to the album closer the pedal is never let up. All songs are aggressive but all are not necessarily the same speedy tempo. The next thing that grabbed my ear is the intro to “Out of the Flames” which has some guitar runs that are just mind-blowing. The way the drums follows the run is very cool and sounds tightly executed. “Forsaken” has some killer vocals, the chorus with the line “Show me the way…” is incredible. This track reminded me a little of another of my favorite bands, Lost Horizon. The vocals in the album’s title track, “Enslaved”, also remind me of Lost Horizon. “Immortal Hate” is the track with the most prominent death metal styled vocal lines sounding like the dude from Vader joined them in the studio. The leads again in this one are deadly. The death vocal style also appear in “Son of a Thousand Souls” which at times sounds brutal and then sounds like some kinda heavy prog…very cool.



Lyrically this album has a lot of religious references, as does the cover art. My copy has no lyrics, so I can’t tell you if they are Christian metallers or anti-religion….somehow I believe it to be the latter (with a title like “enslaved” it’s not hard to guess), but I don’t care since the musicianship and songs alone make this a must hear for fans of aggressive power metal. If you had previously shelved Steel Attack under happy power metal or HammerFall followers, you should update your opinion with their new album ENSLAVED.
Track Listing

1. Gates of Heaven
2. Out of the Flames
3. Forsaken
4. Bless My Sins
5. Immortal Hate
6. Son of a Thousand Souls
7. Enslaved
8. Voices
9. When you dream

Lineup

Johan Jalonen - guitar
Mike Steel - drums
Ronny Hemlin - vocals
John Allan - guitar
Anden Andersson - bass


Next review: » Steel Attack - Enslaved
Previous review: » Steel Attack - Diabolic Symphony

Steel Attack
Enslaved
January 2005
Released: 2004, Arise Records / Sound Pollution
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall

Here comes a band from Sala, Sweden that formed in 1995 but under a different name. They switched names to their current one in 1997. A lot of members have come and gone through the years but despite that they have managed to put out 4 albums. The band doesn’t want this record to be compared to the previous ones because they think that this one is the best they’ve done so far. The band have recently switched singers and now it’s Ronny Hemlin that takes care of the vocals. Hemlin is the younger brother of Håkan Hemlin, a singer in a well known folk/rock music band here in Sweden called Nordman.



Hemlin has a really great voice and an extremely broad vocal range combined with a really tough attitude in his voice. Hemlin comes from Gävle, Sweden and the rest of the guys are from Sala.



Steel Attack runs through a total of 9 songs and all of the music and lyrics are written by the band. The info note says that the lyrics throughout the album are “about religions in different angles and point of views ... the songs throughout the album should be taken to each listeners own point of view ... it’s up to the listener to treat the content in his or her own way of understanding and judgement of it’s content and meaning.”



Steel Attack have used the Black Lodge Studio owned by the former Carnal Forge vocalist Jonas Kjellgren. The recording took place during April and May 2004. I don’t know who produced the album but it was mastered by Peter In de Betou (Hypocrisy). The production sounds really great and the lead vocals play a big part in there.



This Swedish band plays heavy metal influenced by power metal. There are a lot of tempo changes and the tempo shifts from fast heavy metal to somewhat more melodic power metal, but luckily they haven’t added any ballads on this opus.



The band says the following about their album: “See the songs as a mix of a varied album, both fast and some slower parts. There are no ballads since none of us got the music at this time for such kind of songs in the new Steel Attack sound”.



I can’t but agree with this description.



Hemlin takes up, as I said before, a big part in the sounscape and he sure got the chance to show off his vocal ability. He gets some help in the songs by choirs, Johan aJalonen and John Allan have the opportunity to show of their skills on guitar, both on solo and on rhythm. Mike Steel is real stable behind his drums. He’s both fast and technical and uses a lot of double bass pedals through the songs too. Steel Attack are a bunch of really skilled musicians.



This album sounds really great and it’s packed with well-written material . It consists of really competent musicians and a strong production. Hemlin is a real catch as a singer and he takes the material to new heights. During October 2004 the band went on a tour to the Southern parts of Europe together with the headliner acts Exciter and Black Abyss.



All of the songs are of the same high class and it’s impossible to pick any favorite one. With this album Sweden shows that they still are one of the leading hard rock and metal countries in the world today. All fans of this genre should absolutely check this album out. I really hope that this line-up can stay intact and that they can get out on the road real soon so we have a chance to catch them live. The only thing that’s negative with this amazing album is the cover that doesn’t benefit the band at all.
Track Listing

1. Gates Of Heaven
2. Out Of The Flames
3. Forsaken
4. Bless My Sins
5. Immortal Hate
6. Son Of A Thousand Souls
7. Enslaved
8. Voices
9. When You Dream

Lineup

Johan Jalonen – guitar
Mike Steel – drums
Ronny Hemlin – lead vocals
John Allan – guitar
Anden Andersson – bass


Next review: » Steel Attack - FALL INTO MADNESS
Previous review: » Steel Attack - Diabolic Symphony





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