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SOUL OF STEEL is a melodic power metal act out of Italy (the premiere primordial soup of melodic metal, of course) that have been around for quite some time and looking to make their mark on the ever burgeoning Euro-metal circuit. Having only been around to have recorded two albums, these youngsters have time on their side in order to knock the worldly music audiences for a loop, and many of us old timers can possibly forgive their somewhat loose chops. That’s how it should be, anyway…more often than not it will take a few albums to perfect the craft, get that voice as best as possible. Truth, truly. …that’s an odd sentence. Oh well.
So let’s give their latest, “Journey to Infinity”, that old college try…
It seems to me that, much like folk metal, power metal acts will tackle one of two different ways to achieve their personal musical peak; the upbeat, rather fun and happy way or the fist-pumping, epic and more downtrodden way. Dealing with the latter sometimes leads to a better listen, as it fits the themes presented on the album better if said themes are more on the epic side (sword swinging battles, sorrow, sci-fi stuff, etc.) In the case of SOUL OF STEEL, they seem to be treading down that path with their sense of minor chord progressions, a slightly thrashy level of heaviness, and somewhat mournful/battle weary vocal approach. Crushing guitar/bass riffs rage side by side with digital/technoish keyboard lines, mild symphonic arrangements and some rather background lead vocals that act more as an instrument all its own augmenting the rest of the group. The overall appeal of “Journey to Infinity” is a personal spin on the power metal sound, not the most original in the world but still able to avoid being ignored by way of above average songwriting, a good approach to musical dynamics (from the heavy and brutal to the lilty and progressive) and enough sense to put the main songwriting strength to the keyboards and allowing the guitars and bass to do what they need to do to augment those melodies without being pushed into the background early FAIRYLAND-like. Thus is the appeal of an album that reeks more of a group effort versus one single composer writing the whole album. Things don’t always leap ahead into full-on raging speed and slow-mo drudging, and instead push everything along with a more medium-pace cadence that isn’t the worst, or the best, way to go about things, I feel; using one specific tempo is fine for a few tracks, but sometimes you need to be a little faster, a little slower, a little something else in order for the disc to maintain that certain level of differentiation that will prevent the disc from being so samey from end to end. Not that that risk is wholly present here, as the end result is still a fine recording in spite of the limitations seemingly present.
At the end of the day, outside of a risk of middle-of-the-roadism, “Journey to Infinity” is a fairly good record through and through. Good for those who need a good, quick melodic metal jolt and it could have a good few years of shelf life for those who are more passive on such a style. Recommended if you’re into this kinda thing.