Steel Assassin – WWII: Metal Of Honor

May 4, 2012 in Reviews by Kylie

Steel Assassin
WWII: Metal Of Honor

Are you still depressed about Jag Panzer retiring a few years ago? Me too. Until now. Brockton, Massachusetts’ Steel Assassin apparently figured out the secret ritual to resurrect the immaculate Ample Destruction and release a sequel. Yeah, I just made the comparison that every trad/thrash metal would think blasphemous, but this has all the elements that made Jag Panzer’s debut the American metal album of the ’80s.

Vocalist John Falzone pulls off Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin’s voice to a T: definitely the best mid-range vocal I’ve heard in years! He doesn’t scream like The Tyrant did in “Cardiac Arrest,” but wow, Falzone gives about infinity percent. The riffs are bountiful and equal parts melodic and badass, totally reminiscent of Mark Briody, and the leads are just about perfect, with a ton of harmonies that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Iron Maiden record. The drumwork is tight and perfectly fits the riffage.

The production on the guitars is a bit tinny (like a less sucky version of …And Justice For All), but really doesn’t detract from the  overall awesomeness of the album. The drums and bass are heavy enough to push the bass frequencies into the mix. So it sounds similar to the thousands of shoestring budget NWOBHM albums and EPs from the late 70s and early 80s. No points lost there.

Unlike most power metal albums, there isn’t an overtly speed metal track here. Sure, “Blitzkrieg Demons” begins like an “Overkill” 2.0, but quickly shows that it’s another mid-tempo ass kicker. Everything on Metal Of Honor is mid tempo, but not to a fault; the riffs are unique to each song, and the epics, “The Iron Saint” and “Normandy Angels” make for their own little journeys into Europe ca. 1944 (OK, so Guadalcanal is from the Pacific Theater).

This is a nifty World War II concept album whose sound is totally reflective of the theme. Riffs and kick drums march along, conquering the weak that would dare oppose them. The only weak spot is the cover of Rush’s “Red Sector A,” mainly because Steel Assassin is taking a personal favorite song that I’ve heard so many times as an electro-pop tune that hearing a more power thrash edge to it, while a great take on a classic that still fits the theme, just doesn’t mesh with my bias to the song.

All in all, this is a great throwback to the early 80s American power metal scene that has been fairly vacant from Jag Panzer’s retirement and Manowar’s recent symphonic wankery. This would be a bit better off with a full-on speed metal track, but it’s certainly very good at what it does.

Kylie’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5