It is good to see that more and more Lithuanian bands manage to get their releases available to a wider audience and also that the spectrum is widening, because what once was a predominantly extreme scene, has produced more traditional and melodic acts of late, starting with SBS, continuing on with THUNDERTALE and now I have SOUL STEALER rotating in my player, this one coming via veteran label Ledo Takas Records, giving us their spin on Heavy/Power Metal, with Lithuanian and English lyrics.
Despite only having been around since 2003, the involved musicians have plenty of experience with other bands and singer Jeronimas Milius even had been chosen to represent Lithuania in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008, so it’s not as if we have a bunch of greenhorns at hand. Their self-titled debut (as far as I know without any demos prior to it) starts out with “Viskas, Kas Turi Pradžiŕ” and the all important first impression is one of a lot of melody, excellent vocals, immediate catchiness and about one and a half decades of Metal that never seem to have happened, as the song harkens back to the late Eighties and due to their foreign sound the Lithuanian lyrics also add some charm and originality to the whole thing.
The first English-language song “The Reaper” is one of my personal favourites, as it displays more dynamics and a little more bite, as some of the other tracks lack this certain edge, making them sound a little too streamlined at times. Especially the keyboards might not be to everybody’s likings, as they can get a little in the way of the power, but at least they don’t spread any lush carpets or take over the lead. So there won’t be any prizes for originality any time soon, but there’s no doubt about these guys knowing what they are doing and to have a great voice such as Jeronimas’ in the line-up is a huge asset for the band, as he can elevate a good song to a very good one, as happening with “The Reaper” as well as closing “Too Heavy”, which is my second favourite on “Soul Stealer”.
“Vampire Woman” also shows that they know how to spice things up and work with different tempos and moods to achieve good dynamics and flow. And while several of the songs are nothing special, the dynamics together with the vocals overall are one of the elements that SOUL STEALER use to good effect and make the album more enjoyable than it might be otherwise due to the rather limited originality, which once more underlines my creed of rather having a good copy than a bad original, because the Lithuanians definitely are one thing: entertaining. And if you do not have to find the next generation of the wheel invented, you should be able to enjoy their songs a fair bit as well.
So...if you really have to stick to the absolute cream of the crop, SOUL STEALER are not there quite yet, but if you would like to give a band a chance that delivers quality material and does not disappointment, plus is blessed with an excellent singer, then “Soul Stealer” is definitely worth a shot, after all we shouldn’t forget that this is only their debut, so chances are that they are just going to get better with time!
(Online February 21, 2009)