Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Coldsteel - America Idol [2013]

Coldsteel is one of those bands that, despite forming back in 1986, couldn't manage to gain a sufficient fan base, as their sole album, ''Freakboy'', was released in 1992. That aside, even after the internet's benefits in uprooting obscurities were discovered, I hardly think ''Freakboy'' became a cult classic. Coldsteel didn't even aesthetically belong in the ''old school'' category, but instead a power-induced channeling of groove/thrash which, although quite terrible even for today's measurements, was strangely popular back then, and I would honestly have appreciated it more if the band's new material, ''America Idol'', belonged somewhat more in the group of old school thrash; perhaps something of a Bay Area kick, judging by the path the band's taking, or more voracious speed/thrash effulgence. Yet, the band's preferences haven't changed, at least not in the core tenets, but Coldsteel seek to both diversify and modernize their brand using numerous implements, making the four-track EP we have here a relatively more interesting listen than their any other release in their backlog.

In fact, I daresay this EP's genuinely good, and certain track bear a textured, concussive rhythmic department that I found to be far more memorable than anticipated. I suppose they're a bit more punctilious about the subtleties of their riffs, but the real good news comes from a rather excellent stringing of influences, bludgeoning songwriting and well-penned blazing leads for a cut above the rest. You'll certainly hear a strong groove/thrash influence, which can be nettling, I admit, but most of the time these modernized grooves are jointed with melodious power/thrash rushes, and you get these drum-pumped grooves clashing with hybridized choruses - and they turn out to be riper than expected. I'm getting all sorts of vibes; from Sepultura circa 1991-1996 to Laaz Rockit, Helstar, Abattoir to some of the more picking-laden power metal acts out there, with a good measure of speed threaded into all these influences. The vocals bear queer resemblance to Hetfield circa 1988-1991, until they soar to higher power metal shrieks, and the drums are excellent, both well paced and capable of upbringing plenty of groove to the guitar work.

''America Idol'', with its superb gyrating chorus and ''Ashes To Ashes'' with its gestalt of tech-thrash riffing and onset of condensing solos remain as my favorite tracks, and in all honesty they're superior to many other thrash bands performing in their field. However, I won't deny that there were some things here that were a little too agitating for me. Firstly, ''Blink Of An Eye'' featured one of those terrible modern chorus sing-aloud's, and the intro to ''Blood Secrets'' was just fucking irrelevant and annoying (techno, really?). But besides some flaws ''America Idol'' remains an entertaining exercise in modernity, proto-power metal and groove/thrash. This exactly what you'd get if you fused on of the early-mid 90's groove metal obscurities with 21st century power/thrash inflections, so unless you're a purist, you need not suffer this; if you're searching for something of a booming frivolity to band your head to, then it's not a bad choice at all. And I can safely confide after some two dozen spins, it's pretty damn solid.

America Idol
Ashes To Ashes

Rating: 77%

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