Slowly but surely STEEL ATTACK seem to turn into some sort of all-star band, with TAD MOROSE’s Peter Morén on drums, Ronny Hemlin being the new TAD MOROSE singer, MEMORY GARDEN’s Simon Johansson manning the second guitar and both Hemlin and bassist Johan Löfgren also being in LACK OF FAITH... Anyways, they are back with their sixth album, titled “Carpe DiEnd” (a wordplay on “carpe diem”, which means “seize the day”) and now it kind of bites me in the ass that I had lost contact with the band after the release of “Predator Of The Empire”, because between that third album and this one several things must have happened (and not just in terms of line-up changes), because this is a completely different beast!
Had the first three albums still fit squarely into the category of typical, traditional Swedish Power Metal, I would not have guessed that “Carpe DiEnd” belonged to the same band anymore. For one the obvious change – the vocalist. Had the previous two fronters had clear, high voices, which were good, but typical for the genre, Ronny Hemlin’s organ is rougher and grittier (while staying melodic) and through that has the ability to change the mood of the song single-handedly. Secondly the music takes on a heavier, a little more modern and overall definitely more progressive character, which sometimes reminds me a bit of ANGEL DUST, sometimes of ABSTRAKT ALGEBRA (Simon Johansson had been a member of the latter, so there might be a little bit of a connection there), while still maintaining the Power Metal foundation, so the whole sound reminds me a bit of a mix between ANGEL DUST and BRAINSTORM with an added progressive touch and a few more modern touches here and there.
“I Keep Falling” takes on a darker hue (here somehow reminding me a bit of PAGANS MIND), but the truly epic chorus takes the cake in this song, it’ll take a while to get it out of your head! After that we hit a few songs that are not bad, but lack the memorability, until we reach “For Whom I Bleed”, where I feel reminded of MORGANA LEFAY more than once, a powerful, stomping song, where you can feel the guitars shake your foundations, a real headbanger (despite the calm verse or maybe because of that)! After that “Angels” gets more melodic and the chorus once more is the star of the song, but the rest of the song leads up to the culmination in this ultra catchy chorus that also sticks to your memory (even if you would not like the song!).
The album has garnered some more or less harsh criticism throughout the Metal world, but I think that this is maybe due to people expecting something else from the band, mostly due to their past. Now while there are a few songs that just won’t ignite and Ronny’s vocals still hit their limits here and there, when he tries to scale the really high notes, “Carpe DiEnd” is a very interesting album that goes beyond your usual Power Metal release, far beyond actually, and while I mentioned quite a few bands in comparison, STEEL ATTACK anno 2008 do not sound like any of them overall. If you like your Power Metal with heavy riffing, a little less polished vocals and a serving of progressiveness, then you should give the new STEEL ATTACK at least a try, especially the mentioned tracks.
(Online October 31, 2008)