Released: 2013, Bakerteam Records
I’ve always stated that we need new, young Metal warriors in the war against crappy music. Many music fans (unfortunately the majority that I talk to) tend to be dismissive of new, young bands and throw around terms like ‘clone’ or ‘glut’ and these same shortsighted fans tend to dismiss new bands like Soul Of Steel, because those same fans think they have heard it all before. This young Italian Power Metal band joins the battle at a time when there are hundreds and hundreds of bands of this style, and those critics and cynics who are intolerant or just too lazy to take time to listen may, I fear, dismiss this band as one of many. That would be a mistake because if fans only stay with what is comfortable and familiar, what are they going to do when all their favourite bands stop making music? I for one, tend to be more accepting of young bands that wear their influences and are still in the process of developing their own style and identity. I like to hear where the future of traditional Metal is going and Soul Of Steel is one such band.
Soul Of Steel have now been around for about five years and after a low-key debut on Italy’s premier Power Metal label, Underground Symphony, they have made the jump to Bakerteam Records for album #2. With my rather long, preceding paragraph, I essentially mean to say that we need more bands that keep the true, classic, traditional metal sound alive. I’m very pleased that Soul Of Steel is content to create music and art that adheres to the traditional conventions of Metal and they avoid the trap of excessive experimentation, or genre-bending and focus on the more important elements of performance and execution.
JOURNEY TO INFINITY is a good value running at over 71 minutes for the 13 song album, with one bonus cut tacked on the end, an acoustic version of ‘Last Desire’, which features Roberto from Labyrinth on vocals. The production is more than adequate, clear with a nice mix and separation in the instruments courtesy of Olaf Thorsen of Labyrinth and Vision Divine. Alesso (Keyboards, Vision Divine) also makes a guest appearance as well, so this young band has some good friends in the scene helping them out. The album cover is also well done fitting with the lyrical theme.
The album is thematic, the story of a man confronting his demons as he has (as the website says, ‘ a dreamlike journey’. The clear vocals of Gianni Valente deliver the words with clarity and conviction. Musically the band is a great mix of Prog and Power with symphonic elements. The tempos range from really fast cuts like ‘Secret Words’ to much more subdued pacing as heard on ‘Like A Memory’ with acoustic piano, cello, and a quiet vocal line and some soaring and emotional guitar work. Some tracks blend the two nicely like the song, ‘Portrait Of My Last Dream’ which starts slow, like a ballad but steadily increases in tempo before the dying seconds of musical denouement. The songs have progressive elements but they don’t get too complex or long, many of them run in the 5-7 minute range, with longer introductory, transition and end pieces in the songs. If I had one criticism it would be that too many songs start slow and very similar; a quiet vocal line with acoustic piano, or cello, or violin…however these pieces seem to serve as a bit of narrative to the main theme of the song, so it serves a purpose.
While I recognize the fact that perhaps JOURNEY TO INFINITY does not offer anything dramatically new or radically different, I am very content to enjoy a well-written progressive Power Metal album with great performances. While Soul Of Steel may not have a huge amount of excitement or industry buzz or crazy gimmicks, or a wild image, they do have talent and they write good songs and those skills will take them farther in the long run than many flavour of the month Metal bands that are style than substance. Take the journey to infinity with Soul Of Steel (with headphones on!) and I feel you will not be disappointed.