Steeltrooper – Eternal Warrior
Some of the most frustrating albums to listen to and review are the ones where you can tell that the band clearly excels in some or even most areas, and overall you probably should be loving it, but there’s that one glaring flaw you simply can’t overlook that drags the whole thing down. So much so, in some cases, that an average album is easier to get through because at least then you won’t constantly be complaining about that one significant flaw. “Eternal Warrior”, the debut from the UK’s Steeltrooper is one such unfortunate album, and it was pretty obvious right from the start. Actually, I saw a four minute trailer the band had posted with clips from all the songs and this gave me an idea of what I’d be dealing with, but I never thought it would end up being this frustrating.
The band plays a blend of power, speed, and thrash metal, and they list bands such as Helloween, Dragonforce, and Metallica as their main influences. This is very accurate, as songs like “The Truth About Heartbreak” show. In that song, you get a cheesy keyboard intro, a majestic guitar lead in that could have come straight from the German band, and then it turns into more of a thrashy song as it goes along. Musically, the song is about as enjoyable as music can get. However…..
Yep, time to harp on the vocals. Again! Their facebook page makes it slightly confusing to tell who the lead singer is, with three members being listed as providing vocals and none saying “lead”, but based on being the only one with vocals listed before his instrument, I’m guessing the lead is Owen. Either way, I have quite a few problems with whoever the lead singer is, not the least of which being that his voice is naturally grating, and not a very good fit for this kind of music. The two biggest problems though, are his very forced sounding delivery and the fact that he seems to be out of tune constantly, especially on the chorus of the song previously mentioned, completely killing everything the rest of the band has achieved. He’s particularly bad on the more melodic sections (of which there are plenty), as his voice seems to clash with the music. He tries to sound like a thrash singer, except he doesn’t have the right kind of voice for that either, so he ends up sounding painfully monotone.
At least “Prosperous” doesn’t suffer from this problem, since it’s an instrumental, and it allows the band to show their full capabilities. Also a highlight is the opener, “Enter the Dragon”, a seven-plus minute song with a nice instrumental opening sequence and an extended solo section in the middle. Actually, all the instrumental sections on the album are excellent, and many of the solos remind me of Kirk Hammett from when he was at his best in the 80’s, while others are more inventive but just as well-played. The good news is that there are quite a few of these throughout the album, so that helps bring my overall enjoyment of the album up a little bit.
Sometimes I wish I could cut off the part of each of ear that picks up on bad vocals, because there have been countless times where I should have loved an album where poor vocals turned something that should have been excellent into something barely listenable. I’ve seen some positive reviews for this album, and I really envy those reviewers because I would be right there with them praising this if not for the fact that vocals are the most important thing to me. So I guess for anyone who can ignore them, this album is recommended, since the band delivers everything they promise, the overall talent level of the musicians is very high, and the songs are all very catchy (even the ballad “Silent Rage” has some great acoustic guitar sections that would have made it an enjoyable song). Non- “vocal snobs” should album should be great. Now I just need to figure out how to tell my ears to concentrate fully on everything else……
Travis Green’s Rating: 2.75 out of 5