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Steel Inferno - Aesthetics of Decay

Steel Inferno
Aesthetics of Decay
by Ofer Mashiach at 26 February 2017, 11:05 PM

The need for speed is an inseparable part of Heavy Metal. Speed breeds excitement – riding a motorbike with cool breeze hitting your face, reaching the finishing line first in a race – it yields a sense of freedom and achievement. It's a feeling of victory, a feeling of getting a foothold in terra incognita, of being a pioneer, of rejuvenation or even an expression of eternal youth.

But sometimes you should know better and slow down. Many Thrash and Speed Metal bands learned to take their foot off the accelerator in favor of musical evolution as expressed in more advanced songwriting and focusing on what really matters without compromising their integrity. Speed also generates rapid wear and tear. Although fast music may be welcome as accompaniment to working out in the gym, it may also be inappropriate for daily consumption, thus becoming a gimmick. I believe most artists wish to be remembered, thanks to their timeless music and not, as a passing episode that wears out fast. That's where speed as the major feature can become a stumbling block, especially when the artist uses it in an attempt to make a point but remains a step back when it comes to the essence of his music. And that's exactly how I feel while listening to "Aesthetics of Decay," the latest album by STEEL INFERNO.

STEEL INFERNO is a relatively new effervescent band from Copenhagen, Denmark, the style of which seems incompatible with the somewhat nerdy appearance of its members. Fronted by Karen, the band breathlessly generates an incessant blistering assault of fast riffs and drumming. To me, their attitude is a bit affected and they seem to try too hard. Karen's singing sounds strenuous and lacking real power and not in par with this demanding style. I must say that their 2014 demo was very promising and showed much character, and they even managed to retain their original unique sound in the current album, but something was lost on the way. Whereas each song on the demo had identity of its own and the overall atmosphere was looser, is seem that in "Aesthetics of Decay", the band is slightly "scared" and can't really handle the pressure. For the most part, you just can't tell where one track finishes and another one begins, making the experience rather tiresome. It is not a bad album; don't get me wrong, it has a fair share of fine moments. But it feels like a bunch of well-behaved teenagers that took daddy's car for an unrestrained joyride, thinking it would be a good idea to strike mailboxes on the way to appear cool to their peers, and when they come to their senses they feel they should have channeled their unrealized potential elsewhere.

As I already stated, this is a fast album. There are quite a few good ideas in here, but the album lacks diversity. The song construction is repetitive, and with every song, you feel you have already heard it before. After two fast-paced song, there comes the third track "Defender of the Old Way," a solid rocker with good dynamics that gets faster towards its cathartic end. But the unrelenting tempo continues afterwards. Karen's singing is pretty technical and emotionless, which is a turn-off. Though she clearly has a range, some roughness and soulfulness could benefit the songs. Listening to this album, I couldn't stop wondering how it could have sounded, for example, with a singer like Leather Leone at the front of the stage. Another problem is the profuse corny guitar licks that overshadow the highlights. As a stand-alone piece, each song might be enjoyable, but listening to the songs in succession I become impatient.

In my opinion, the best track is "Magic Sword." Unfortunately, this one specifically is not original at all but a cover for KIM SIXX, an obscure Danish Heavy Metal band from the 1980's. It seems that Karen really nails it here and the song is performed with much respect to the source.

In summary, the band has ample unrealized potential. I don't know if it's due to pressure from the label or anything of the sort. I assume that the best way to experience this high-energy music is to see the band perform live. If you have the need for speed, this album if for you.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Aesthetics of Decay
2. City Lights
3. Defender of the Old Way
4. The Old Serpent
5. Merciful Slayer
6. Infernal Steel Brigade
7. Dismantling Fixed Positions
8. Flashing Reality
9. Magic Sword (KIM SIXX cover)
10. …Of Desire & Woe
11. To End All Wars
Thierry - Bass
Patrick - Guitars
Lars - Guitars
Krzysztof - Drums
Karen - Vocals
Record Label: Inferno Records


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Edited 19 January 2021

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