Frontiers [Release date 04.09.20]
Second album from Grenoble’s finest metal band, Rising Steel. And you can see the tongue in their cheek from space. Allegedly.
The band’s amusingly phallic name is the first Freudian nod and wink. And then, endearingly, the music connects up every rushing, thrashing riff that ever existed, pulling in references from Annihilator (‘Malefice’), Iron Maiden (‘Steel Hammer’), Judas Priest (‘Led By Judas’) and every NWOBHM band that ever existed. It’s all there. You can hear it… feel it, and of course the title, “Fight Them All”. None more aggressive. The whole “backs against the wall” ethos is a key ingredient of all great heavy metal.
And… dammit, it’s got some great tunes. But it takes its time, slowly unfolding, firstly revealing the cleverly choreographed track sequencing.
The initial tracks are those of a band finding their way into an indestructible, heavy metal groove. Leading us from the caustic, thundering ‘Mystic Voices’, (which is so imaginatively arranged that it sounds like a face off between two competing metal bands – and they both win) to the album’s pivotal track, ‘Gloomy World’.
It’s here that the band begins to truly standout. A doomy keyboard intro, a riff fighting its way to the surface, and voices acting out the lyrics, playing with theatrics. None of this is original, but there’s something distinctive, almost radical about the way the band deliver this song. It stays with you, long after the album is over.
‘Metal Nation’ is not so much speed metal, but metal on speed. It just doesn’t stop, it’s so propulsive, rising and falling around a sturdy melody and a bunch of lyrics that would have made the Sex Pistols flinch. The stomping, foot to the floor ‘Pussy’ maintains the momentum, bridging the gap between rock and metal, cresting a wave of power chords and pounding percussion, guiding us toward the end of the album.
The band name and the album title might just be too much for some to get past, but those who invest will be glad they took a chance. Guaranteed. ****
Review by Brian McGowan
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