There is probably no band in our scene whose name is so closely associated with a one single song – Medieval Steel are “Medieval Steel“ for many people. The fact that Bobby Franklin and Co. released one of the most famous and iconic epic metal numbers in 1984 – probably only Manowar’s “Battle Hymn“ can compete in this respect – is surely both a curse and a blessing. The band from Memphis, Tennessee, may adorn themselves with the label of legend, but all their other compositions have so far been completely overshadowed by the aforementioned self-titled anthem – unfortunately also the solid Dark Castle from 2013, which was by the way the band’s first full-length, 31 years after the formation. That this is to be regretted is clear to anyone who has spent attention on the entire oeuvre of the US-Americans. I thus hope that Gods of Steel will encourage one or the other Epic Metal Blog reader not to focus only on this one tune…
On their second studio album, Medieval Steel offer us modern sounding punchy US power metal that releases plenty of adrenaline thanks to a forceful production. Above all, Franklin does a superb job on the mic! If I didn’t know any better, I would think that this is a young band speaking out loudly. Genre fans can therefore grab Gods of Steel without hesitation – fun is guaranteed!
Already the opener and title track is a highlight, it is impossible not to sing along here. The good shot of epicness in the middle section should be particularly appealing to the Southern European Keep it True section. However, it is, once again, a rather lovelessly designed fadeout that curbs my enthusiasm – much more could have been delivered here! Therefore, for those who don’t want to listen to the whole album, my listening tip is “Soldier of Fortune“ – in this composition everything is fitting: A great build-up of tension in the verses and a rousing, catchy chorus on Fifth Angel level show what great deeds Medieval Steel are still capable of. If the whole album would stay on this level, a top 10 ranking in my best of the year list would be guaranteed.
But also the majority of the other numbers provide quality US steel – at some points Gods of Steel reminds me of Firepower, for example in the closing track “Satanic Garden“. In contrast to Judas Priest’s last work, this record is not too long. And that’s a blessing, because after just under 43 minutes everything has been said. There are no boring sequences, but a little more variety in terms of songwriting would have done Gods of Steel no harm at all – especially “Memories“, which I would classify as a kind of gritty semi-power ballad, is a splash of colour (but one has to admit that the stylistically similar “April“ on the previous album Dark Castle is more convincing). I also would have liked to have heard one or two more memorable guitar solos. Apart from that, I can also imagine that those who have Medieval Steel in mind mainly because of the band anthem mentioned at the beginning might complain about the low epic degree. Therefore, listeners who consume US power metal rather marginally should allow themselves a trial listen before pressing the order button.
Conclusion: In the year 2022 Medieval Steel sound amazingly fresh and above all heavier than ever before – and can therefore unquestionably be called a relevant factor in our scene. Not every song is a huge hit and the class of Dark Castle is not fully reached, but there are no failures to be noted. If the band around Bobby Franklin succeeds in presenting the impressive power that characterises Gods of Steel on stage, festival organisers with taste should pick up the phone and quickly call Memphis.