Steel doesn’t cry. Nor does Steel run, hide or eat soy-based food stuffs. He does however partake liberally of 80 heavy metal, and that’s how Crying Steel came under his iron gaze ov chrome. Hailing from Italy, this retro rocking outfit has bounced around for quite some time, managing to release a series of albums from 2007 onward, of which Stay Steel is the fourth. They describe their style as NWoIHM (New Wave of Italian Heavy Metal), which in practice sounds suspiciously like the First Wave of American Metal Inspired by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. With so many waves intersecting and colliding, motion sickness, cheese and tubulararity are sure to be in abundance, but what of quality music? Hey, no matter how this shakes out, at least they gave us a high quality album cover, right? Purple is the new black, I hear.
It’s only a few moments into opener “Hammerfall” (really guys?) that it hits me who these chaps sound a lot like. That would be Norwegian hair metal legends T.N.T. Yes, these Italians who claim Mediterranean new wave o’ metal status actually have co-opted the sweet, melodic metal stylings of Scandinavia along with America and do their best to make them their own. It came as little surprise then to find out their singer is none other than Tony Mills who fronted T.N.T. for several albums. The band executes their chosen style quite well, incorporating plenty of hard rock hooks into their anthemic writing. The riffs drive forward aggressively and Mills wails over the top as he wrings every ounce of cheesy hookitude out of his lines.
By the third song, the stupidly catchy “Speed of Light,” I went from sneering disapproval to a grudging acceptance, and soon a self-loathing kind of appreciation. These guys know how to write an olde timey metal anthem that gets right to the heart ov Steel, and I became less able to resist their vile charms with each spin. The ancient formula of rock n’ roll sass blended into melodic metal works as well in 2018 as it did in 1983 and they’ve mastered the art of beating the listener silly with hooky choruses. Cuts like “Blackout” and “Barricades” are shameless in their radio rock infusion, but you will remember the songs, even if you’d rather not. “Name of the Father” is essentially a stolen Saxon song and it’s hard to resist, and closer “Road to Glory” is like a throwback to the days of Keel and Y&T and it makes me want to don parachute pants and hang out at the Orange Julius stand at the local mall like it’s 1982 again.
Not every track is a lightning in a iron bottle, but most of the 12 offerings rock fairly hard whilst riding pretty free. The worst of the bunch is “The Killer Inside,” and even that one grows on me with each spin. This is certainly no groundbreaking platter, but the band knows how to make cheesy 80s metal fun and memorable, and that’s 90% of the battle these days.
A lot of the credit for the album’s staying power is due to the guitar tandem of Franco Nipoti and J.J. Frati. They slather the album in 50 shades of purple metal riffs, most of them uptempo and arena-ready. These easy to like, fist pumping leads provide a smooth landing strip for Tony Mills’ wailing, upper-register vocals. The man is a proud graduate of the Balls in Vice Vocal Academy and rarely does he drop his delivery below scrotum tweakage levels. This works for me, though for many he’ll be the cause of ear canal ruptures and frontal lobe bruising.1
Nearly 50 minutes of throwback 80s metal may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, and if you don’t dig it, go cry about it elsewhere. This is for those who like some fun in their metal and some steel in their…steel. By the way, there’s no crying in metal. P.S. You’re all crybaby posers.