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Blood Hails Steel - Steel Hails Fire
Review by Brexaul on January 2, 2021.
I feel very conflicted about Megaton Sword. They have some of the qualities I cherish in heavy metal and they tick all the right boxes in oh so many levels that the geek in me seeks in general. I like their name, I like their concept, I like their stage names, I love their covers and I really enjoy their general approach to heavy metal. I am having a very hard time liking their songs though. And by songs, I mean the vocals, there I said it.
Let me start by telling you, if you are one of those people that have absolutely no issue with erhm, weirdly unique vocals in music, then you can either ignore this review altogether or add 20 to 30% depending on your tolerance. Their first album boldly named Blood Hails Steel - Steel Hails Fire looks mighty impressive courtesy of the supremely talented Adam Burke (who had done an equally fantastic work on their E.P.) but unfortunately falls flat compared to the expectations. The style of the band is the typical NWOTHM sound that we all know and love and there are some really kickass moments in here. I was very happy to notice they moved a bit further away from the Eternal Champion worship that was glaringly obvious in their EP and they are starting to get their own thing going on. Sure they need to polish and refine their sound further but there are some moments that everything falls into place and works like a charm, like the opening self-titled track, the rocker 'In the Black of Night' or maybe even 'Songs of Victory'.
The songs are not overly technical or complex and I imagine they serve their purpose really well, Megaton Sword should be a very fun band to watch live, perhaps at a festival of the sort, with the right amount of beer and battle-vests, so hopefully we can witness first hand after the corona Pandemic is behind us. This is some good old-school heavy metal with the occasional crunchy riffing, tight rhythm section and 80’s worship which is for the most part well executed, although I would prefer some better thought-out solos. There were times that I genuinely thought there were some problems in the mix due to the odd soloing 'Verene' being a prime example of what-the-fuckery.
The obvious make-or-break factor of this album is the vocals and I’m unfortunately on the break side of the spectrum. Uzzy’s voice is way too weird for me to enjoy and holds back any true potential this album has, flaws aside. There are prime examples of unique (or limited if you prefer) singers in today’s bands (Jason Tarpey being the obvious candidate here), that manage to turn their drawback into an advantage, but I really can’t see it happening on this album. I really hope they work on their vocals further until they manage to hit the sweet spot that will help their compositions further.
Megaton Sword offer their take on the long tested NWOTHM formula and they at no point discover fire. They have the right ideas and the obligatory fire-inside that this style requires but the album is slightly uneven with its fair share of fillers. If they work on their weaknesses and focus a bit more on the strong points of their songwriting, we can expect a big hitter from them down the road.
Rating: 6 out of 10532