Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Album Review: "Midnight Chaser" by Liquid Steel

In the late seventies and early eighties a new sound emerged from Great Britain, which built tremendously upon the foundations established by Black Sabbath and borrowed heavily from the energy and enthusiasm of punk rock. Unlike their forefathers in Sabbath these bands largely steered away from lyrical content about despair, depression, doom and the devil, and instead wrote songs about fantasy, mythology or history. 

They were also different from punk rock due to a focus on musicianship, often with long epic songs, full of operatic vocals and searing guitar solos.  This sound gained momentum within the British Isles and then hit the shores of the United States like a hurricane, earning the movement the name of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM).  Spearheading this invasion were bands such as Raven, Samson, Angel Witch, Girlschool, Saxon,Venom, Rainbow and most significantly Def Leppard and Iron Maiden.

As the popularity grew, and the sound expanded to dozens of other countries and hundreds of other bands, the moniker of NWOBHM gave way to the simpler, but still accurate description of power metal, spawning such noteworthy acts as Dio, Sabaton, Hammerfall, Accept, Helloween, Kamelot, Armored Saint, and Manowar.

It also splintered into the closely related genre of thrash metal, which emerged from the ethos and influence of NWOBHM to create a new allied invasion of America with its beachhead in San Francisco rather than London. By the time the 80s came to a close thrash metal and glam metal had relegated all the NWOBHM bands to the background, with only Iron Maiden and Def Leppard remaining relevant two decades later. 

Although this genre is still revered and celebrated by metalheads the world over, it has failed to spawn a significant number of new bands in recent years.
Liquid Steel  fill an album like they fill a hallway.
Liquid Steel, not only embraces the power metal label, but specifically  harkens back to its earliest New Wave of British Heavy Metal founders.  It is striking how well they have captured the spirit of 1980 London, as many of these tracks could have appeared on the first two Iron Maiden albums without seeming the least bit out of place. Songs such as "Air Aces" are an example of what it would sound like if Bruce Dickenson were to write lyrics for Paul Di'anno era Maiden.
Although, Helloween does not exactly fit the label of NWOBHM, having arrived in the second wave of this music and not originating in Britain, their music is close enough to warrant comparisons.  Perhaps it is no accident Liquid Steel sounds so gloriously similar to the German power metal masters, considering they hail from the nearby town of Innsbruck, Austria.  If you are a fan of Helloween, specifically of the “Keeper of the Seven Keys” era, you are sure to appreciate Liquid Steel’s revival of this sound. 

The song structures, melodies, harmonizing guitars and vocal delivery are straight from the Helloween tune book. The opening song "Kingdom of Silence", the title track "Midnight Chaser" and "Fright Night" mark the return of Teutonic power metal.
The strongest track on the album is "Autumn Leaves" which includes a bridge section definitive of the whole genre.
Liquid Steel have perfectly captured the best elements of the underserved sounds of power metal, and have delivered it with enthusiasm and conviction.  One can only hope more bands follow in their wake.

Release:  September 3, 2016
Label:  Self Released
Genre:  Power Metal, New Wave of British Heavy Metal

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