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'Zero Hour' EP
Out Now

Sam Hayler

sam hayler

toledo steel

If you thought the 80s were over, you thought wrong.

A true work of melodic mastery, 'Zero Hour' is one EP that you can't afford to miss. Harnessing the energy and power of the early eighties Metal scene, Toledo Steel have released an EP that sounds as if it was pulled straight through a time vortex from the golden era of Heavy Metal.

The Southampton based rockers released their debut EP in 2013 and since then have played shows alongside Cauldron, White Wizzard, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Battle Beast and many others. In such a short space of time, Toledo Steel have turned into a leading name in the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal, delivering a classic recipe with some new ingredients.

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Let's get down to business. While only an EP, the record contains a generous portion of tracks, all of which seek to excite and inspire. The intro (and title) track is one that truthfully foreshadows the songs to come, using atmospheric synthesisers to build that gateway to the 1980s.

Sometimes with Metal records, the introductions become tedious if strung out for an extensive period of time but this is not the case with 'Zero Hour'. Instead, you're given just over a minute of captivating synth magic, which holds the attention just long enough so that you don't even consider skipping to the next track. It's hypnotic, atmospheric and seductive – the ultimate checklist for any traditional instrumental.

One might find similarities between this track and Deep Purple's 'Child In Time' where the synthesisers take the listener out of their own body and into a whole new level of consciousness (who ever said you needed drugs to feel high?).

The following track doesn't beat around the bush, it heads straight to war with a harmonising twin-lead attack. House and Potter are on fire from the outset, emulating the musicianship and chemistry of Adrian Smith and Dave Murray. Lovell's bass work is admirable throughout 'Fallen Empire', wielding the power and force of Harris, whilst Dobson brings a hail of machine gun fire from the percussion section.

There is very little to fault with the track, with immense musicianship omitted from all corners. Rich Rutter's vocals add a slightly different edge to the Maiden-esque unit, bringing in a dose of Diamond Head, which the ears digest like chocolate.

All-in-all, 'Fallen Empire' is an instant classic for the lads from Steel.

As expected, 'City Lights' continues to utilise the twin-attack formula, but with a more 70s rock and roll approach. Short but memorable, the track should make a definite crowd pleaser for the five-piece's dedicated fanbase. The vocals are catchy and melodic, accompanied accordingly by the incredibly tight instrumental section. Everything just seems to click at this point in the record, with not a single thing out of place. The immense passion put into each note couldn't be more visible at this point.

After a fairly brief headbanger, Southampton's Metal Messiahs deliver something more appealing for the hardcore Metal fan. With longer instrumental sections, solos to rival the greatest of axesmiths, and several changes to the tempo and dynamics, 'Children Of The Sun' makes it oh-so-clear to the listener that Toledo Steel isn't a gimic or party band.

Rutter and Co. are here to do more than entertain; they're here to do their part in saving Heavy Metal - a genre which for some years has been overshadowed by mainstream pop-rock and R&B. The track is perfectly placed on the record, creating a steady balance between no-nonsense rock and intricately composed metal. There's something for everyone.

'Speed Killer' is an instant classic. If you were hoping for a song where the entire audience can contribute to delivering the chorus, you're in luck. There is an uber amount of fun to be had yelling out "Speed Killer! Speed Killer!" when that special moment comes around, and no doubt this was an intentional move made by the band. The guitarwork is consistent with the rest of the EP, remaining powerful and epic throughout.

Something about the song feels very reminiscent of Iron Maiden's 'Killers' album. The punk rock energy creates a sense of unity between artist and listener, and in that way it achieves everything a Metal song should. The solo is a personal favourite on the record, mostly for its spontaenous nature. So many modern Metal bands plan out each aspect of the song, and the solos feel as if someone just typed out the notes on GarageBand. But there's a very bluesy element here that makes the track stand out from the rest.

To finish off this cracker of an EP, Toledo deliver one final track to please the ears and exercise the neck. Packed with so much energy that you'll work up a sweat before the second chorus, the self-titled 'Toledo Steel' says everything that needs to be said about the band. A self-defining work of art, the high octane epilogue to one hell of a record promises the listener huge solos, screeching vocals, and all-out rhythmic warfare. There is nothing to criticise, only so much to praise.

For a band so early in its career, Toledo Steel have given something that the Metal community has been begging for since the end of the 1980s. A true blessing for all.


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