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True Strength – Steel Evangelist

True Strength
Steel Evangelist
by Riccardo Gaffuri at 12 July 2017, 6:27 AM

TRUE STRENGTH is a Christian heavy metal trio out of the US, whose album ‘Steel Evangelist’, after being independently released in 2016, has been remastered e re-released by Roxx Records last February. ‘Steel Evangelist’ features ten 5 to 10 minute tracks, for a length of over an hour; this happens to be one of the most evident problems for this album, both at micro and macro level. While there’s nothing against long metal tracks and albums – whole genres have that in their DNA -, you should be able to get your listeners engaged to the end, give motives to them, whether it’s a clear musical discourse you want to engage your listeners in or technical breaks to show up your skills and amuse people with. ‘Steel Evangelist’ unfortunately lacks both and has a high risk of bore listeners, giving them hard times to make it through the album or a second listening. While looking at each member will show you that they know how to play their gear, as a whole there are few hints that could hook people up and generally it contributes to aforementioned listener boredom: riff originality is not one of the arrows in their quiver, and while “No Cheek Left Unturned”, “Cilician Gates” and “The War We Fight” may be worth saving with their nice drives, the general feel is of a static movement always charging up, with the illusion of an apex to be reached, but that moment never comes and we’re left with just a monotone pace.

Lyrically TRUE STRENGTH stand both on biblical themes as track titles suggest and Christianity history, both past and current, with connections to ‘struggles’ it faces in modern society. Going beyond their message, which is finely tuned to the audience they might have, there’s an evident issue in how the lyrics are laid out and sewed to the melody: actually they tend to break it up, as they are not “tuned” to the music and being too long and verbose the singer has to actually speed up to fit all the words on the rhythm, falling in a cacophonic fight with the lead guitar. Given this approach, it’s hard for listeners to actually catch up with the lyrics as there’s no fluid word flow to be enjoyed and it appears more of a book quote being read “singing” than an actual song lyric: if proselytism is among their objectives they may fail in that as their message is rendered quite unintelligible by this.

As a last take on this album, vocals still sound a bit amateurish: although they show to be able to go through some ranges, lyrics constraint vocals constantly into a monotone pace which breaks again every hint of melody there might be, dragging down and sinking what good there is in tunes like “Gabriel the Archangel”. Lastly, some attempts at vocal layering like in the middle of “Blood Waters The Cedars Of Lebanon” will give you the chills, and not in a good way. TRUE STRENGTH might have potential for success, at least in their niche, but their greatest flaw, which I hope they would overcome now that they’re signed to a label, is the lack (at least in the result) of a direction for their songwriting, in which all the band sections, from riffs, to drum pace, to vocals and lyrics might have a common target, without clashing each other.

Songwriting: 4
Originality: 4
Memorability: 4
Production: 4

2 Star Rating

1. No Cheek Left to Turn
2. Steel Evangelist
3. Cilician Gates
4. Don't Take the Mark of the Beast
5. The Fall of the Ripest Apple
6. Gabriel the Archangel
7. Woe to the Sons of Ishmael
8. Blood Waters the Cedars of Lebanon
9. Twenty-One Martyrs Clothed in Orange
10. The War We Fight
Ryan "The Archangel" Darnell - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar & Bass
Josh Cirbo - Lead Guitar
Ryan Mey – Drums
Record Label: Roxx Records


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Edited 27 November 2022

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