“Lord Of The Wasteland”, the debut album of Swedish Traditional Metal rookies STEELWING received a lot of attention and praise when it was released in 2010. The band won a contest for a record deal with Nuclear Blast, (even though the contract was later bought by the related label Noise Art). The band reacted well to the sudden success and produced some more material, which became “Lord Of The Wasteland”.
Musically, STEELWING belong to a new wave of Swedish bands playing 80’s-influenced Metal. The main influence here is clearly JUDAS PRIEST. All of their trademarks are present: speedy songs, chugging rhythm guitars, playful guitar solos, double kick drumming and impressive falsetto vocals. All in all, that makes for a rather simple concept, but STEELWING do it well, so it works wonders. Most songs on the album are in a high tempo, bursting with energy and neither power nor melody is forgotten. Most songs also focus on a catchy sing-along chorus, flanked by straight-forward parts. One of the main strengths is that the album almost never loses pace, but continues relentlessly in the same vein. For me, the catchy song structures, the capable guitar-work and most of all the enormous talent of vocalist Riley are the main reasons for enjoying this record. The latter covers a large vocal range and puts a lot of force behind his vocals, not only delivering quality falsetto screams. The lyrics are also interesting. “Sentinel Hill” is a nice Lovecraft-inspired song, while several tracks have a Mad Max-oriented post-apocalyptic theme. That concept is described in many of the earlier songs and then explained a bit, to the observant listener, in the closer.
After the pretty good intro, the album starts off with the straight-forward “Headhunter”, before going on to “Roadkill (Or Be Killed)”, which is one of the albums highlights with its fist-in-the-face attitude and gang-shouted chorus. “Sentinel Hill” slows down a bit, but adds a mystical layer and keeps up the high quality before the best track “The Illusion” riffs its way out of the speakers. “Under The Scavenger Sun” and “Clash Of The Two Tribes” are both pretty good songs, while “The Nightwatcher” and “Point Of Singularity” feel a bit more like fillers to my ears. The second half of the album is thus not as strong as the first, which lowers the grade a bit. When it comes to energy-driven Metal, keeping the pace up is especially important, but STEELWING still deliver many good songs for a first attempt.
All fans of JUDAS PRIEST have to hear “Lord Of The Wasteland”, but fans of the 80s-sound in general are advised to pick this up, as it is the best album that has been released in this vein for a long time. I am usually only moderately positive to this approach, but this is done so well that I surrendered and so will you when you have heard the album.
(Online March 28, 2012)