Steelwing - Zone Of AlienationThese Swedish metalheads claim to be “champions of the traditional genre” and have tours with Accept, Sabaton and Grand Magus under their (bullet) belts.

This is Steelwing‘s second album and they certainly take their metal seriously. Macho band name: Check. Garish sci-fi album sleeve: Check. Vague and silly claims to concept album: Check. So what about the actual tunes? Well they certainly have some memorable ones, but not necessarily for the reasons they might hope.

Some of this stuff is very well produced, catchy and mildly entertaining. Their anthem-in-waiting is ‘Full Speed Ahead’ and does what is says on the tin in an Accept style gallop. ‘Tokkotai (Divine Wind)’ is basically Iron Maiden‘s ‘Aces High’ moved to the Pacific but is still sprightly after it’s long journey. ‘Running Man’ is also a decent rocker, although I’m sure somebody did a song about this movie already. Am I wrong?

Two songs mid-album may turn the more refined listener against them however. Title track and main offender ‘Zone of  Alienation’ has  pretty awful lyrics that no grown man should be able to stomach, let alone write and record with a straight face – “heavy metal mutants in a vicious bio-sphere” etc etc. Spare me…

‘Breathless’ on first listen is a pleasant AOR departure but on second listen you realise is actually Slayer‘s ‘Dead Skin Mask’ as rewritten by Journey! It is so wrong and creepy that I’m split between admiration and utter disgust. It really is bizarre. Well, I did say they had memorable songs!

It all ends with ten minute epic ‘Lunacy Rising’ which approaches the ridiculous in their lyrics again but just about succeeds in being a fun Halloween style romp. It features plenty of tempo changes and moods and it all goes by without repeating itself too much.

Christ, it’s all a bit much though!

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