I quite enjoyed Liquid Steel’s 2014 debut album, ‘Fire in the Sky,’ so it was a no-brainer to order the band’s second CD, entitled ‘Midnight Chaser’ and sporting eye-catching cover art that would look killer on a t-shirt. When the package arrived from Innsbruck, Austria, I was surprised and pleased to see that the band had written a note on the outside reading, “Thanks for your dedication in our little band. Really appreciate it!” Sure, it’s a little thing, but I love it when bands take the time to give personal thanks to metalheads in faraway places who buy their CDs and crank their music. To reciprocate the band’s kindness, their CD somehow gravitated toward the top of my review queue, and now here it is.
There may not be many traditional metal bands in Austria, but the ones they do have are pretty fantastic. Liquid Steel are well-versed in the NWOBHM sound, injected with an additional measure of speed and energy in places. More importantly, they are skilled songwriters who are adept at marrying powerful riffs to great melodies. Opener “Kingdom of Silence” reels the listener in right away with a galloping riff and a smooth, compelling vocal from Fabio Carta backed by some great nuggets of ear candy from the guitars. Terrific! Liquid Steel move from strength to strength with “Midnight Chaser,” featuring another rugged riff, a cool call-and-response vocal effect, a slick, smooth chorus, and a welcome burst of speed in the midsection. Another highlight is “Starrider,” where Liquid Steel make it look ridiculously easy to write a grade-A NWOBHM-styled anthem. I could listen to this stuff all day long. That’s not to say, however, that Liquid Steel play it safe throughout the 9-song, 46-minute running time of ‘Midnight Chaser.’ They don’t. “Hiroshima” is a seven-minute epic with spoken-word narrative passages and multiple tempo and mood shifts, including some dreary bits befitting the somber subject matter. Not sure how well it works, to be candid, but I do give the band full marks for giving it a go. “Autumn Leaves” is a ballad that starts out in fairly pedestrian fashion before cutting loose with reckless abandon near the end. And drummer Martin Eberharter abuses the hell out of his cowbell in “Fright Night,” so much so that Christopher Walken and Will Farrell would be proud. But it’s the meat-and-potatoes stuff like the speedy “Air Aces” and “Kubla Khan” where the band really shine, the latter giving a co-write credit to 19th century British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (who is best known for the epic poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’) from whose works some of the lyrics were culled.
Look, I know it’s fashionable in some quarters to criticize the NWOTHM, the NWOBHM revival, the new breed of old-sounding bands, or whatever you want to call it. Me, I love the style and welcome newcomers to this sonic territory as long as they do it well and from the heart. Liquid Steel’s take on the traditional metal sound is well-executed indeed. The songs are mostly excellent, the performances are confident and inspired, and the production values are clear and powerful. In short, this is classic metal done right. If you’re into that sort of thing, as I am, ‘Midnight Chaser’ should rank high on your shopping list this holiday season. Forget fruitcakes and tacky sweaters – give the gift of Liquid Steel instead, especially if the recipient is your own bad self.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~