Soul Of Steel – Journey To Infinity
Soul Of Steel
Journey To Infinity
Reviewed by Graham Henry
Journey To Infinity is the sophomore release from Italian symphonic power metal band Soul Of Steel. From the first spin, there are two things noticeable about this album: first, it is long, clocking in at 1 hour and 11 minutes, and second, it never really picks up. Journey To Infinity is probably a bit too long for its own good, and lacks intensity compared to many of its Italian counterparts.
The strongest points on this album all revolve around the lead guitar work. With so many long songs pockmarking the album, there is ample opportunity for guitarists Nicola Caroli and Valerio De Rossa to strut their stuff. “Through The Gates Of Heaven” features two extended instrumental sections displaying the technical prowess of the two axegrinders. The title track “Journey To Infinity” also has some nice licks about halfway through. Yet even the lead guitars suffer during the length of many of the songs. While technically skilled, the guitars gradually get forgotten, and the solos begin to blend together as you listen through the album. It seems like too much effort was spent trying to include the solos, and not enough time spent trying to make good songs.
The vocals are very typical of the genre. Singer Gianni Valente has a limited range, and usually sticks within the same octave or two in the middle of the register. This gives the vocals a largely forgettable quality, particularly since the vocal melodies are also standard power metal fare, without really bothering to distinguish themselves or make themselves memorable. There isn’t much to sing along to here, and the vocal melodies seem to run together from one song to the next.
This is, of course, a very keyboard-heavy album. Perhaps the best use of these keyboards is in the instrumental introduction track “Aeternum Tormentum”, which is perhaps in turn the most exciting track on the album – it’s what I was expecting to hear but never did. Songs like “Shadows Of The Past,” “Neverland” and “Last Desire” owe much of their atmosphere to the keys, both as a background and lead instrument. The keyboard solo in the former song marks its highest point. Unfortunately, the keyboards suffer, like the guitar, from the same “too many solos” syndrome. It needlessly extends the lengths of the songs, and becomes repetitive.
The most difficult part of this album to reconcile is the number of ballads and quasi-ballads littered throughout the track list. “Neverland” uses the “clean verse, heavy chorus, clean verse” trope, as does “Portrait Of My Last Dream,” though both songs manage to pick up a bit near the end. “The Fallen Angel” is a straight ballad (and also, mercifully, the shortest song on the album). “Like A Memory” is a power ballad, but far too slow and derivative to be interesting.
Journey To Infinity is not a bad album, but it’s definitely not an outstanding album either. Across the board, this album is exceptionally average. The vocals are average, the instrumentals are average, the melodies are average. This doesn’t mesh well with the long songs on the album (7 songs over 5:50), and it makes the album drag more and more the longer you listen to it. There are some redeeming qualities that will make this appeal to the die-hard fans of Italian power metal, but for many of the rest of us, it’s largely repetitive and derivative of itself.
2.5 // 5