Steel Cartel [release date: 18.01.19]
If your mojo is shaken and stirred by high octane falsetto metal shrieking, then this album will put it through a nutribullet. The Three Tremors is a fearsome triumvirate of lung-busting vocal power, headed by Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens (Judas Priest), and joined by Sean Peck (Cage) and Harry Conklin (Jag Panzer).
Technically, the vocal gymnastics, cut free from any restraining tethers, are pretty impressive in scope, range and harmonics. The impact though, is overwhelming. Riding the album from start to finish induces a certain queasiness.
Opening salvoes in the shape of ‘Invaders From The Sky’ and ‘Bullets for the Damned’ set in stone the chaotic musical tone and comic-book lyrical narratives. Underneath the triple screaming heads, all manner of guitar pyrotechnics and furious double kick drum weaves are raising merry hell, all housed in a slick, soulless shrink-wrapped production.
Take away the novelty of the vocal onslaught, the songs are often run-of-the-mill metal fodder, given overblown twists and ridiculous imagery. “Three times louder than a sonic boom, three fingers on the hand of doom!” chorus the band in the closing title track. Ahem.
There are some moments of genuine entertainment here though, rather than just comedy value. ‘Wrath of Asgard’ is the first track to introduce a little space for the vocals to breathe.
Later ‘King Of The Monsters’ benefits from a more structured approach and a worthy Steve Harris-inspired bottom end chug. ‘Sonic Suicide’ hits upon a proper catchy riff and finds the most lucid, tuneful soloing of the album. This mid-album interest is maintained by the intriguing ‘Fly Or Die’ about the Pearl Harbor attack that brought the US into World War II.
Matters revert to type a little thereafter, although the guitar passage and change-up on ‘Speed To Burn’ is well worked. Then that closing title track casting the protagonists as heroic sonic ninjas, which neatly encapsulates the mood of the entire set.
At best this is a fun, histrionic, power metal romp. Keep the tongue firmly in the cheek. ***
Review by Dave Atkinson
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