I openly admit it, when I receive a CD of a band called TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT, then it does not inspire too much confidence, feeling that something weird awaits me. Maybe it had been a bad experience with a band called BUMBLEFOOT, I don't know, which let me advance on the Americans with quite some caution, but as I looked at the booklet and with that the line-up, my doubts started to disperse, because if you have a Shawn Pelata as singer, then things cannot be all that bad, can they? Sure, history is littered with many at first look great bands and albums, which then turn out to be little more as a handful of a soft, brown and not exactly good smelling mass, but you can have hopes, no?
Anyways, TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT are the brainchild of guitarist Kyle Harrison, who not only restricts his participation in the playing of his instrument, but also did the production and wrote the lion's share of the music, only on a few songs supported by "music collaborator" (whatever that is supposed to mean) John Reffberg. My main problem is to really categorise this album, because we get American Power Metal as well as a light neoclassical influences, some Progressive Metal and "regular" Melodic Metal, to varying degrees, so what is it that TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT present us with here?
If you take the opener "Merchants Of Death", then it is a bit neo classically touched (do not fear, not much) Power Metal of the American school, which comes out of the speakers and also sounds damn good. Co-responsible without a doubt are the vocals of Shawn Pelata, which do not always follow the usual vocal lines, but also differ a bit (yet always remaining harmonic) and therefore keeping the listener's attention at a high at all times, just like the Irish sounding riff/lead, which bears the song just as much. The following "Pride Will Fall" then is another outstanding track. It starts out calmly with acoustic guitars and emotional vocals, then turns into a powerful stomper to develop into a roller coaster ride between slow and emotional passages, powerful parts (including some distorted vocals, which sound aggressive, but only party fit in) and also a bit of Spanish guitar, gripping you from beginning to end, not letting go anymore, very strong song, which never gets predictable!
"Thunder And Iron" then is an extensive instrumental, where the musicians can show what they are capable of, but listen there, it always remains a song, superfluous fuddlings thankfully are left out completely! Phew! After that TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT dive into the slightly progressive Power Metal of the American school a bit more, at times also letting the double-bass drive through, but still they never really sound like a specific other band, which is made sure by the atmosphere and of course Shawn Pelata's great vocals. "Remembrance" is a calm, emotional instrumental (fitting the title) before "Poseidon's Wrath" closes the album off, powerful, with strong, powerful vocals and equally great melodies.
All my original fears and doubts were blown away by the first two tracks, because TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT manage to be evolutionary and traditional, progressive and still very accessible at the same time, with well built song structures and clear vocals, for sure one of the best releases from Steelheart/Adrenaline so far (my personal number one most probably still is AZTEC JADE's second album), which you should check out as well! (Online December 17, 2003)