For many Metalheads France still is a more or less white spot on the Metal map. Apparently our colleagues of “Metal Integral” magazine thought the same and called a compilation called “French Steel” into life, to bring the traditional Metal of their home country to a wider public’s attention.
16 tracks of mostly (at least to me) unknown bands, plus the already better known NIGHTMARE, LONEWOLF and SEYMINHOL, which all donated previously unreleased tracks. For the cover they won over Jean-Pascal Fournier, who produced another fine artwork that should please any fan of strong visual packaging!
The musical content, though, is what makes a compilation and here, as in most cases, there is light and shadow, so let’s look at the light first, shall we? NIGHTMARE without a doubt belong there with their usually powerful Heavy/Power Metal and expressive vocals, really fitting into the tradition of their past two albums. Also LONEWOLF’s contribution “Hellenic Warriors” is absolutely up to par, traditional Heavy Metal in the style of the debut. Also H3O+ convinced me, between Melodic and light Prog Metal, with powerful vocals, just the drums sound a bit too synthetic for me.
With SEYMINHOL you hear the maturity of the band, with oriental sounds and keyboards, with a progressive touch, not as powerful as NIGHTMARE or LONEWOLF, but with its own touch. Also the catchy Hard Rock of TOBACCO ROAD has got something, while LAST PROPHECY show good potential in their interesting Melodic Metal, which just suffers a bit from the weak production and the fact that the song runs out of steam towards the end.
On the other, more shadowy, side we have a few vocal (and at times compository) problems, as with ABSURD (sounds too squeaky to me at times), STEREOXYDE or also SOHO, while other bands sound a bit, ehm, dusty. So as so often it is a split result, but as I found a few pretty interesting bands that I had not heard anything from before, this CD already has fulfilled its purpose, hehe.
Available for 15 Euros (or Dollars) at: Association PLANETE MUSIC, Maison de Associations – N 6, 67 rue Saint Francois de Sales, 73000 Chambery, France, or contact the guys at email@example.com. (Online May 16, 2004)