Maximum Metal Rating Legend
5 Excellent - Masterpiece. A classic.
4.5-4 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a lacking.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio.
2.5-2 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors.
1.5-1 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible - Waste of your life and time.

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Steel Attack
Diabolic Symphony
7/25/2006 - Review by: Eric Compton
Steel Attack - Diabolic Symphony - 2006 - Massacre Records

Track Listing
1. Diabolic Symphony
2. Dead Forever
3. Shallow Seas Of Hatred
4. Dreaming
5. Embraced By Fear
6. Invisible God
7. Santimonious
8. Haunting
9. Show Me The Way
10. Winter Hell
11. I Bow My Head In Shame
12. The Other Side
Sweden's premier power metal export is back at it again, this time conducting a "Diabolic Symphony" as their fifth album to date. These youngsters had spent their first two full lengths with AFM Records, and their last two efforts with Spain's Arise Records. Now, for the first time in their career, they release an album for Germany's Massacre Records, a big step towards a larger audience and their biggest metal exposure to date. The group experienced quite possibly their largest amount of critical praise and media coverage with 2004's "Enslaved", an album that saw the band with new singer Ronny Hemlin, and new guitarist Johan Jalonen. That new line-up combined on more of a groove wallop, really straying from the band's rather generic power metal beginnings and into something that was more consistent with today's modern metal crowds. Now the band make two more changes before the release of "Diabolic Symphony"; the aforementioned change to Massacre Records and a new drummer in Tony Elfving. The end result? A smashing follow-up and easily the group's best record to date.

The band head to Black Lounge studios in Sweden for this fifth outing, with this record really taking on a conceptual songwriting role. The whole album is mired in religion and the horrors awaiting non-believers in Hell. The record tackles the mythos of Hell and why it is prepared for innocent people. The main character here finds his life on Earth rewarding and normal, being an innocent person who has done nothing wrong. The only thing missing is his beliefs in an invisible God, and the idea that he does not worship a higher power. He awakes to find himself in Hell and all of the horrors that await God's "non-believers". The lyrics are very thought provoking and, often enough, I found myself asking the same questions as author Hemlin.

Musically this is a fantastic piece of power metal, at times using just the right amount of keyboards and symphonic arrangements to make this slightly more progressive than prior releases. Vocalist Ronny Hemlin shows off his love and admiration for Sabbath's Tony Martin, making extraordinary use of his ultra clean register and hitting higher notes with ease. The combo of Jalonen and founding guitarist John Forssen once again hits those rock solid metallic riffs, really stomp riffing through some of the heaviest power metal passages while still picking up faster tunes and grooves. New drummer Elfving fits in nicely, really showing off his skills behind the kit with plenty of fills, rolls, and quick, punchy double-bass.

Songs like "Dead Forever", "Embraced By Fear", and "Shallow Seas Of Hatred" are heavy, thumping mid-tempo cuts that are arranged around huge, sing-along vocal lines. I love the harmony parts of "Dreaming" (you'll be singing the chorus all day at work) and the atmospheric power ballad "Haunting". The album also contains a video track for "Diabolic Symphony".

Bottom Line - While Steel Attack still remain solid in their roots and upbringing, the group at this point in time are probably sharing the same mature platforms as some of metal's finest progressive outfits, including big bands like Kamelot, Nocturnal Rites, and even Tad Morose. "Diabolic Symphony" is the band's finest hour and easily one of the better power progressive albums of the year. Watch the band hit US shores this summer!

--EC 07.25.06

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