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Possessed Steel - Aedris Award winner

Possessed Steel
by Barbra Rose at 21 December 2020, 1:43 AM

From Toronto, Ontario, POSSESSED STEEL released a full album entitled “Aedris” on November 30, 2020.  This first full length release is preceded by the June 22 2017 release of an E.P, entitled “Order Of The Moon“, and, by the February 14th, 2014 release of an E.P. by the (band) name of “Possessed Steel”, and, a 12/2020 Demo release of a recorded rehearsal. The album opens with a short introductory piano piece entitled “The Dreamer” that endures for approximately one minute twenty-five seconds. The piece opens with neighboring tones in the soprano lines that seem to be passing tones - with undercurrent of pre-recorded water running over rocks (i.e. - a stream or brook) with the soft howl of an owl. The majority of the piano is played in the lower & lower medium registers - that move between the root and fifth (dominant) scale degree beneath the pedal root - for momentary tonicizations of the key structure. At forty-six seconds - one hears a pizzicato string pluck–though I do not know the instrumentation utilized. As the piece progresses more accidental sounds amongst the middle and higher piano registers - expanding overall the melodic curve of the overture. At about one moment ten-seconds into the prelude - footsteps, as though one is walking through the woods are heard - and the piano root note resounds - then crescendos before decaying.

“Spellblade” - the second album track opens on the same tonic root with moderately distorted guitars that moves to the II chord (with III Chord / mediant ascensions) before the song moves to the subdominant (from the E string to the A string) for the riff standard used for the verses. A “Spellblade” is that of a sword - and that of a knightly, chivalrous oath in allegiance to a king. Talon Sullivan has an extremely clear voice and vocal style. At about three & one half minutes into the song,  Don Bachinski adds a perfectly appropriate bass solo or riff that has a musical feel of a galloping horse that moves progressively; Richard Rizzo begins to accompany the “galloping bass” with drums (perhaps with stick tips on the rims?) as the song intensifies not in aggression but in drive.  Rhythm guitars enter to modify the rhythm - but this adds to the intensity rather than subdues or convolutes it.   At about four minutes into the song–lead guitars as though of the earlier nineteen-eighties finish the song with a musical solo, not without a musical intensity rarely heard in lighter forms of heavy metal that have absolutely no commercialism.

“Keeper Of The Woods” - the third album track, is a bit heavier than its predecessor,  if not with distortion than with speed and intensity. The lyrics utilize a similar chivalrous theme as the “Keeper of the Woods” shoots a legendary stag with an arrow. As the song progresses into five minutes.  The drums pause - accentuating the heaviness. Talon Sullivan’s vocal sound grows eerie - modernized like that of modern heavier metal - as the woodsman is sentenced (cursed) by the king “For the rest of your days you will wander this land with no tongue or eyes. But I will Assault you with hearing so you can hear the cries. Of the others who wander through this land in the realm where I rule. In the realm, in this realm. I'm the Keeper of the Woods.”     An extremely melodic guitar solo finishes the song–and not without a mastery of musical skill.

“Forest Of The Dead” - the fourth album track is mostly a short accompanied guitar track with keyboards resembling a vocal chorus adding evocations of pithy duress since the pronouncement of the king’s curse upon the woodsman. “Forest Lich” - the fifth album track,  begins with the sound of wind howling through trees. Drums and rhythms shortly enter with floor-tom rudiments accompanied by guitars.   At about thirty second into the song,  the primary song riff opens and develops until about fifty seconds - when the verses begin. The guitars pedal around the lower F# octave for an eventual (II / V) progression - with a sudden (III / VI) momentary tonicization - to sustain harmonic interest. Talon Sullivan’s vocal sound grows eerie once again. At about three minutes-fifteen seconds into the song,  the guitar’s play with a clean but chorused arpeggiation - utilizing the tritone for rhythmic harmonic dissonance. A lengthy, quite musical guitar solo ends the song.

“Assault On The Twilight Keep” the sixth album track opens a pre-recorded sound of horses galloping quickly - for Richard Rizzo to enter with a single stroke drum roll on the snare:  beautifully done. Fully distorted guitars enter with a speedy metallic riff - while not pretending to be thrash, the drums & rhythm guitars nearly resemble it without reaching it. The lyrics describe the tainted forest and the cursed keeper of it.  At about three minutes into the track - the song slows; then reverts to its wonted intensity, then “sub-divides” into a slower six/eight feel. The lyrics then describe a black unicorn thrusting his pointy horn into the heart of the cursed woods-keeper to announce that the once dead forest will resurrect.

 “Free At Last” - the seventh album track, opens with pre-recorded birds singing. Clean guitars & clear vocals lament the depth of the forest struggle - yet the lyrics develop to end with a happy connotation;  the song continues as though it were an acoustic guitar solo (at points the guitarist utilizes his hands to percussively tap the guitar). Although the album lyrics present a theme of royal chivalry within a forest, the music, however supportive of the lyrical themes they may seem,  are really about the music. This, however, is deceptive perhaps due to both the album sound production & mix.  The song ends with the same pre-recorded singing of birds.

“Bogs of Agathon” - the eighth album track opens with more pre-recorded footsteps walking through a forest. Don Bachinski enters playing a melodic bass theme almost at the tempo of the footsteps, which gradually slow for the guitars to enter playing octaves among the guitars lower, wound strings. Richard Rizzo gently adds musical touches of drumsticks to cymbals - before playing drum rudiments on the floor-toms. Among the slower album tracks, the song alters before reaching two minutes-twenty seconds to a two beat feel (2/2), and at about three minutes-twenty seven seconds, the tempo increases to a four beat (sixteenth notes on the double bass drums) for the closing sequence along the melodic minor scale through the rhythm guitar.

The ninth album track, “Skeleton King” opens like an IRON MAIDEN tune, and when reaching its main riff - it pays tribute to the collective majesty due to our beloved British predecessors.   To enhance the tribute, at about one minute forty-five seconds the tempo modulates to a syncopated subdivisions within the beat. At about three minutes–the song slows but increases in heaviness–and continues with rhythmic tempo changes throughout the duration. To crown this honor “Skeleton King” progresses into a guitar duo - the listener hears the bluesy style of Talon Sullivan against the innovative melodies of Steve Mac.

“Nobunaga” - the tenth and last album track, opens nicely at about one minute thirty second into the song. Richard Rizzo lays an intense, metallic groove. Talon Sullivan uses bits of the eerie metal voice–and I enjoy this sporadic use.  At about four minutes forty seconds, the tempo slows–without the need to push pretentious speed, for the song to finish with a lengthy nineteen eighties style guitar solo. Fans of IRON MAIDEN, as I am, will enjoy this album - and perhaps never so much as on the “Skeleton King” & “Nobunaga” songs: played in an aboriginal style that seems true to the band’s modern renditions of nineteen eighties style metal.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. The Dreamer
2. Spellblade
3. Keeper Of The Woods
4. Forest Of The Dead
5. Frost Lich
6. Assault On The Twilight Keep
7. Free At Last
8. Bogs Of Agathon
9. Skeleton King
10. Nobunaga
Talon Sullivan - Vocals, Guitars
Steve Mac - Guitars
Don Bachinski - Bass
Richard Rizzo - Drums
Record Label: Temple of Mystery


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Edited 07 December 2022

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