Sound — 9
Sweden is the main center of attention for new heavy metal bands. Now that bands like HammerFall, Evergrey, etc. Are starting to become jaded and declining there is a new generation of bands coming up to replace them. Steelwing is my personal favorite of these bands and certainly have some of the most potential. "Zone Of Alienation" is their second album and was released quite recently. Like their first album it contains a bunch of heavy metal songs that borderline on power metal. Think Vicious Rumors or Liege Lord. For such a young band, these guys are great at writing melodies. Steelwing have been able to avoid consistent lineup changes which is a great sign for their future. Robby Rockbag and Alex Vega are great guitarists and play very well together. Every song has a memorable riff and they also do a good job of making the guitars interesting during the verses instead of playing a series of obvious chords.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are cool. There's not much to say about them I guess. There's nothing outstanding but nothing bad about them. We get to hear yet another Japan reference in "Tokkotai". If anyone can explain the recent obsession with Japan in recent heavy metal bands please let me know, its confusing the hell out of me. Anyway, Riley is an outstanding singer. He has excellent range and sounds just as good in his normal range as well as in the higher pitches. As stated before, if the Riley/Rockbag/Vega combination stays together in the future, expect amazing things from these guys.
Overall Impression — 8
The intro track sounded very goofy on the first couple of listens but now it feels normal and a fitting transition into "Solar Wind Riders". I am a bit disappointed at "Full Speed Ahead" being chosen for the music video. Its a good song but I think that "Zone Of Alienation" and "The Running Man" represent Steelwing at their best and would have been better choices for the music video. Probably the most impressive song on the album is the 10+ minute "Lunacy Rising", partially because of how unexpected it was for Steelwing to write such a long and partially because of how good it ended up being. I did not have high expectations for it when I saw the length but it was very well done and ended up being one of the best songs on the album. If you liked Steelwing's first album then this one is definitely worth picking up. I can't really decide which one is better because they are very similar in content and consistency. But if you like this kind of music you'll want to get both. These guys have the potential to be the new Swedish kings of metal, look out for them and let's hope they tour America soon.