CD REVIEW Steelwing

Band : Steelwing
Album title : Zone Of Alienation
Label : NoiseArt Records
Distributor : /
Release date : 06/01/2012 (G/A/S; Sweden= 10/01/2012; Europe= 27/01/2012)
Release : CD

This Swedish Heavy Metal act was founded in 2009 by guitarists Alex Vega & Robby Rockbag, and drummer Oskar Ästedt (all previously of Nyköping based local Heavy Metal act Hellevator – Nyköping is a city some 85 km from Stockholm in SW direction), who enlisted singer Riley and bassist Skürk to complete the line-up and record a 4-track demo soon after.

Competing with some 1200 bands, Steelwing won the Rock The Nation Award competition that same year (alongside Greek Metal warriors Suicidal Angels) on the pure force of their being “...true front soldiers of the classic Heavy Metal...” genre, gaining the band a recording deal with NoiseArt Records, who released the band's debut album Lord Of The Wasteland on April 30, 2010, and followed that up with the release of the EP Roadkill (...Or Be Killed) (which included two songs off the album plus covers of Fleedwood Mac's “Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)” and Judas Priest's “Steeler”...and was exclusive to the Sweden Rock magazine of May 2010). The band was given plenty of exposure from the get-go, securing support slots for gigs with Accept (with whom they would also tour through Europe for a month at the end of 2010- early 2011), Sabaton and Blind Guardian, as well as being able to stand in front of larger crowds at several festivals. Early 2011 saw Skürk departing (due to the extensive touring of the band not complying to his life's needs), and his replacement by one Nic Savage is said to have worked in a way that it pushed the band's inspiration and self-confidence.

Sophomore album Zone Of Alienation is partially a concept album with a story set in the not-so-distant future, where remnants of the human race have fled into outer space in search of new planets to colonise, after the nuclear destruction of Earth during religious wars. The music, which I discover here for the first time, is, as stated earlier, based n Traditional Heavy Metal, the likes with a slight Progressive touch as one might expect from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, but the fact that Riley is a rather heady high-pitched type of singer, combined with the fact that he gets backed harmoniously in a similar-sounding way, ànd that the band doés go for modern production, gives the whole a somewhat Teutonic Power Metal touch (think Helloween and Gamma Ray). (As stated on the band's Wikipedia page, the guys' own inspirations come foremost from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Diamond Head, Accept, and Savatage...and I guess that puts things in their proper perspective, doesn't it?)

For some reason or other, the band still has posted no songs off the new album on either their facebook, MySpace, or Last.fm pages, but then their style has not really changed since. If you're in dire need to listen to at least sóme of the new songs, you'll have to make due with the 30-second samples usually provided by the online sales websites...or try to find a copy of the album at your local record store, and ask (very kindly) to have a listening session. Oh wait, I just found out that you can listen to the new album's track “Full Speed Ahead” on YouTube (no actual video, though). Personally, I think fans of Traditional Heavy Metal as well as those usually into slightly Progressive Power Metal are gonna love this!

86/100

Tony.