Sound: This review is written by a hard rock/hair metal fan, for fellow hard rock/hair metal fans who might consider buying this album. Hence, some of the opinions expressed may be a bit biased towards what was undoubtedly the greatest genre of music that God in all his sheer rocking goodness gave to us mere humans.
This band was one of the last of the 1980s hair metal bands to come into existence, (in fact, they didn't get going til 1990!) but their music certainly has the same hard-rocking, feel-good sound, accompanied by some serious technical brilliance. There's a good mixture of heavier tracks as well as spine-tingling power ballads, and this is definitely the sort of album that will bring all serious air guitarists/air vocalists to the floor of their imaginary arena on their knees at some point. Mike Matijevic (who did the vocals for Mark Walhberg in the film Rock Star) is on top shrieking form, and for anyone who's idea of screaming is the generic noise found in 21st century "screamo" bands, this will open their ears to a time when talents such as Sebastian Bach, Jim Gillete and of course, Matijevic screamed, properly. The riffs are energetic and exciting, and of course there's plenty of weapons grade lead guitar. There's certainly a lot of influences to be found here; Van Halen, Robert Plant and David Coverdale are just a few of them. In all, this album has the real metal sound that has been missing for the last twenty years, and it's certainly deserving of much more fame and success than it ever had. Steelheart's biggest problem was that they released this excellent debut album at a time when grunge and MTV killed off the glam metal scene that had made 80s rock n roll what it was; certainly, even today when someone says "rock star", its big hair, screaming guitar solos and sheer over-the-top energy and attitude that people tend to think of, not whiny, miserable lyrics and fringes. If you want some real rock n roll that takes you back to the good old days, then here is a band you might not have heard of. Fans of Skid Row, GNR, Van Halen etc should not hesitate when it comes to considering this album. It is rock n roll of the finest quality. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are pretty good as far as hair metal lyrics go, and there's plenty of emotion and attitude conveyed in them. They fit in very well with the music, and there's plenty of insane shrieks, as well as catchy choruses to sing along to. Matijevic is an excellent singer, with inhuman range as far as high pitched notes are concerned, and is easily comparable to Sebastian Bach and Jim Gillete, which should really say it all to be honest. Good lyrics, and a voice that leaves most mere mortals stunned. // 9
Overall Impression: This album stands up well to the works of any of the better known rock/metal artists of the time, and fans of Van Halen, Skid Row, Guns N Roses, Poison, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Kiss, Europe, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Warrant, Racer X, Nitro, 1980s Aerosmith and Alice Cooper will undoubtedly appreciate the hard rocking, powerful, never-take-no-for-an-answer attitude that is seldom found in contemporary "rock/metal". As an 18 year old rock n' roll fan, I often wonder why it is people remember the 1980s music with such fondness, and yet nearly all the "rock" music produced today is either spineless indie-rock/pop-rock or brutally generic metalcore. Fair enough, there's plenty of people out there who like those genres, and thats fine as far as I'm concerned. It just seems that there's very little in the middle for people like myself, who feel as if we were born a decade or three too late. If you can't get enough 1980s rock/metal, but haven't discovered any new bands of late, then Steelheart's self-titled album is definitely a return to a time when rock truly rocked, and metal wasn't full of anger/misery/hatred.
If on the other hand, you can't stand hair metal, then this is definitely not an album to put on your christmas list. If you can't relate to the lyrics in Steel Panther's "Death to all but metal" in any way, then I'd advise you to stop reading this review now. For those who do appreciate the finest rock, here's a brief summary of the tracks on this record:
01. Love Ain't Easy: energetic, and a great chorus that many people will relate to, and sing along to. Some excellent shredding, courtesy of the most honourable Chris Risola.
02. Can't Stop Me Loving You: a gentler track that is full of emotion, and builds up to yet more excellent lead guitar and a dramatic ending. Sincerely excellent.
03. Like Never Before: This isn't the greatest track on the album, but it is still worthy of its place. It rocks more than them hard things geologists study, and is quite an uplifting track in all.
04. I'll Never Let You Go: another romantic power ballad that if anything, is better than the previous one. Plenty of emotion and high pitched vocals, as well as a mighty fine solo thrown in as well.
05. Everybody Loves Eileen: a decent track, but not really the best on the album. Takes a while to get going, but its not bad at all once it does. But...who's Eileen?
06. Sheila: some sincerely rocking blues-based rock that has some truly remarkable guitar licks and riffs troughout. However, it is the high pitched shrieking that melts minds here. A great song for those who know rock can be slower and still just as excellent as the faster paced stuff out there.
07. Gimme Gimme: Excellent riff that will make you want to set fire to something, and the song is in general, a masterpiece, with a catchy chorus and fine guitar work throughout. One of the best on the album.
08. Rock N Roll: This could be played at my funeral. Technically brilliant, with proper riffing, brilliant vocals and genuine rock n roll attitude. Definitely one of the best songs on the album.
09. She's Gone: Another power ballad, and this is truly stunning. Words cannot do justice to the emotion and sincere awe inspiring power of this song. It was chancing upon this that first introduced me to Steelheart, and for anyone who appreciates an incredible power ballad, this is one not to be missed.
10. Down N Dirty: brings you back down to the hard rocking world of 80s hair metal, and is a pretty cool track that has all the best that you could hope to find in hair metal song. A most excellent way to end what is truly a fantastic album. // 10