Reviewed: October, 2020
Released: 2020, Temple Of Mystery
Gotta love the band name, so metal and so expected. AEDRIS is the debut full-length album for Toronto, Canada’s Possessed Steel. The band formed and have been playing since 2010 but did not finally release their debut EP until 2016’s ORDER OF THE MOON. From the band name, to the promo photo shot that recalls the glory days of Manowar, everything about Possessed Steel screams traditional metal. Naturally, that is the point because this is traditional metal served with some modern moves that continue to prove that some of the most underrated metal on the planet hails from The Great White North.
AEDRIS is a concept album that follows the character Aedris who must choose to heed or ignore a prophecy of impending doom. You can follow the story, but it is not necessary to enjoy the album, though each song serves as a chapter to the story. After a brief piano intro, we are properly introduced to the music within on “Spellblade” a chugging riff affair with melodic fills and the unmistakable NWOBHM vocals of Talon Sullivan, reminiscent of Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling on “Sign of the Wolf”. The bridge is fantastic, Sullivan’s melodic vocals soaring over an inspired rhythm section and tasteful guitar work from Sullivan and Steve Mac. I think it is my favorite moment of the album, a section that is remembered when the album is finished.
There are many fine moments on AEDRIS though as we get metal gallops, melodic and inspired solos, acoustic guitars and some strategically placed screams and aggression. The band clearly are black metal fans as well, as “Keeper of the Woods”, “Frost Lich” and “Nobunaga” contain passages of our favorite reptilian croaks. Rarely does the bass guitar get to shine in metal, but Don Bachinski does on this album, and it is hard to imagine these songs having the power they do without his contributions. Credit the production and mix for capturing that booming bass, though the production is clear and enjoyable all around. “Free at Last” is an interesting and somewhat unconventional ballad, refreshing in its lack of sappiness.
AEDRIS Is a fine debut from a promising band. While Sullivan’s vocal range is limited, his tone is a bit endearing. Like most young bands, many songs sound similar, but the stand-out songs really do push this album higher in my estimation. No question, Omen, Manilla Road and Warlord are influences, but fans of more recent bands like Ice Sword, Atlantean Kodex and Visigoth should definitely give Possessed Steel a listen.
1. The Dreamer
3. Keeper Of The Woods
4. Forest Of The Dead
5. Frost Lich
6. Assault Of The Twilight Keep
7. Free At Last
8. Bogs Of Agathorn
9. Skeleton King
Donald Bachinski – Bass Guitar
Chris Collins – Drums
Talon Sullivan – Guitar, Vocals
Philip Labine – Lead Guitar