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.
I've had this album in the pile to review for a whole but I didn't give the bandy immediate attention for a couple of reasons. Normally I gravitate towards Italian Power Metal but I didn't notice this Italian Power Metal band for a coupe of reasons. First, the band’s name doesn't not instantly jump out at you like, 'Dragonsword' (or something) does. I had to go and look it up and the band name means (roughly translated) 'The Eternal Drive', that's not bad. It could be worse they could be called Ferngully, Custard or Dew-Scented. Perhaps it is good that the band has a more original name, to stand out but I would have preferred 'Steel-Something'. Second issue is a very plain album cover that also does not give a great impression.
However, once again I learned the lesson, do not judge a book (or in this case a Metal album) by its cover. THE SHADOW TOWER is a very enjoyable album, although, half of this album also appeared on their debut EP last year. It the first full-length for this Italian project, that is a creation of Bruno Masulli. The album to summarize is 11 tracks, running for about 55 minutes and the style is Power Metal with a strong infusion of doom. Half of this album also appeared on their debut EP last year. Not ultra-slow sludgy doom but more like what Candlemass has done in the third phase of their career. I’d lump these guys in with maybe Slough Feg, Dawnbringer and perhaps newer bands like Atlantean Kodex, Argus and guys like that. There are some additional sonic components, like little hints of orchestration, some female vocals, but for the most part the album surges along in a turbulent riff-ride. The last cut, ‘Sons Of Unknown’ is a runaway dump truck of Metal, far too fast to be categorized as merely Doom, hence the Power classification.
The guitar tone is really raw, with a nice drone and the vocals of Bruno (who handles, bass, guitar and vocals) float along the top bringing comparisons to Robert Lowe, further cementing the Candlemass comparison. The songs are arranged well enough, not really catchy, just straight-ahead, good verse and choruses but not too sweet or melodramatic. Dark tones and some more sinister sounding vocal lines keep this out of Euro Metal territory.
I suppose THE SHADOW TOWER is a good Power Metal album for the cool kids who are too hip for Power Metal. There are quite a few of these gateway types bands that are reintroducing the classic Metal sound, and introducing a whole new generation of hipsters to Metal (and sorta of tricking them into thinking this is really cool without having them realize they are just essentially listening to 80’s Metal) but not having to deal with whatever perceived cultural baggage those glory years may have held for this new generation. As for us old dudes, this is just a continuation of 30+ years of classic Metal that just never went away and it’s fantastic.