Steel Attack - Diabolic Symphony
Massacre Records
Power Metal
12 songs (52'02)
Release year: 2006
Massacre Records
Reviewed by Crims

What makes a Power Metal band stand out in a very large crowd? Is it production; is it a unique vocalist; or is it nostalgia elements? Perhaps it’s when the aggressive factor is ramped up? Steel Attack has been a round for the better part of the decade and they haven’t released any bad material but they’ve tread the line of a band who unfortunately gets lost in the shuffle despite releasing consistently above average to very good material. With their latest release, Diabolic Symphony, the band has further cemented themselves as a highly consistent and dependably quality band but is the lasting appeal still in question?

Diabolic Symphony further sees the band progressing into a heavy, aggressive vocals and guitars type of band than one who is based more around "happy" melodies and hooks (as they were originally). The first song that really hits you over the head is Dead Forever, which is a double bass filled track with an excellent main riff (drenched in 80’s US Power Metal) and chorus that sees the band finding the magical combination of melody and aggression that lends itself to simultaneously induce sing-a-longs and neck breaking head banging (sometimes at the same time). The band also has the almost standard song variation down pat which on top of songs like Dead Forever also include heavy and thick mid-paced tracks like Shallow Seas Of Hatred, up tempo chug-fests (which Brainstorm has perfected in my opinion) with slow double bass choruses as found on Invisible Fear, Thrash based head-bangers such as Embrace By Fear, and each slightly varied style has multiple songs found within. All that’s really missing is a long epic song (not necessarily a band thing) and a ballad (also not a bad thing). What this is all means is a CD where each song stands on its own and is constantly heavy, aggressive, and in-your-face. There are practically no moments of slowed down atmosphere building or progressive breakdowns. This is riff heavy Power Metal with powerful choruses that this time around sound A LOT like early Metalium (remember when they were good?), and the vocal harmonizing is very reminiscent of Brainstorm as well. In fact, due in part to the very subtle background synth this whole CD reminds me of any recent Brainstorm CD. The difference is more aggression and a dirtier, ruffer guitar tone (compared to the heavy but clean guitar tone of Brainstorm). In this respect one might make a closer comparision to a band like Grave Digger or Sacred Steel in the guitar tone area.

The production is excellent. In fact, I think this is one of the best produced Power Metal CD’s in recent memory. I already alluded to the guitar tone which is ideal for this band. The heaviness of the band isn’t lost in a muddy mix job and instead is perfectly balanced between the heaviness of modern production and the purity of 80’s styled Metal production. The drums also sound great as the double bass runs are beastly in their execution as the fast double bass can turn into ultra-fast double bass within a moments notice to add a high degree of variation on top of more rhythm based drum patterns. Unfortunately there are few Thrash based runs and instead the drum patterns clearly stay in the Power/Speed Metal camp. I should also mention the leads are quite good but the real highlight and show stopper here is the mix of head-bang chugging and Speed Metal melody based riffs.

So the end result is? Are the riffs and melodic choruses good enough to add the lasting appeal some might argue (some being me) was missing from previous releases? Well, I would say this CD makes the most convincing argument of any Steel Attack CD to date. The band has really upped the ante with a polished combination of professional song writing, musicianship, and production which wasn’t necessarily missing from previous releases; but I would say Diabolic Symphony takes it to a new level. My problem is this: there isn’t a single song that completely blew me away. And after all, isn't that what makes a CD legendary or in the upper echelon of “outstanding”? I think it does. With that being said, does a CD that consistently produces and executes quality Power Metal with raging riffs, song variation, and melodic and catchy choruses not warrant a high degree of praise as well? Perhaps that is better left for an editorial one day. What I will say is this: I can put on this CD and listen to it from beginning to end and sing a long to every chorus (after only a few listens) and I can bang my head to almost every riff and get a lot of enjoyment out of doing so. It was a pleasure listening to this CD multiple times to review. However, I don’t think I can pick out one song that I’m going to want to listen to over and over again in the distant or near future (and this is an argument I use often, but the entire CD is a different story). I have a lot of Steel Attack songs on my computer and CDs in my collection and I have always remembered liking them but 2 or 4 years after the initial run through I never listened to them again. Diabolic Symphony is definitely better than their previous releases in my opinion but it doesn’t quite get the band into the area of lasting impact and appeal that I was hoping for (even though this will likley be the first release from this band that I'll likely return to at least a few times). They are definitely closer than ever before (of getting to the next level) and quite honestly are not far off. For those of you that are new to Power Metal or who don’t have 10 years of Power Metal CD and mp3 collecting that I have: this may impress you even more than me. Either way this is a very good “Power Metal with balls” CD that borders on outstanding on a regular basis.

Killing Songs :
Dead Forever, Shallow Seas Of Hatred, Embrace By Fear, Show Me The Way
Crims quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Steel Attack that we have reviewed:
Steel Attack - Enslaved reviewed by Mike and quoted 80 / 100
Steel Attack - Predator Of The Empire reviewed by Danny and quoted 80 / 100
Steel Attack - Fall Into Madness reviewed by Chris and quoted 85 / 100
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