On indefinite hiatus from Hamerex, Steve Blower has released a solo project. Steve’s written all the music, performed every instrument and designed the artwork. It contains songs which span a number years and influences. According to Steve, it starts with the oldest songs and evolves to the latest ideas.
The opening four tracks are steeped in NWOBHM elements. Vocals are reminiscent of Bruce Dickinson. Not the young and vital Bruce from the 80’s but the current version lacking the range and capacity of yesteryear. With a soundtrack of classic Iron Maiden songs rooted deep in our musical memory, we can fill any voids when Bruce comes up short in concert. Without such a clean reference track, Steve’s vocal limitations are obvious and made glaringly so by a mix which features them. You’ll struggle to listen around the edges to the decent riffs being laid down. On songs like “The Prophet” one wonders if something dark and special could’ve been captured had the vocals been dirtied up and bulldozed under the Black Sabbath inspired riffage.
Perhaps to compensate, the middle of the album features a respite of three consecutive instrumentals. Steve states “I think there’s some people that might be wondering why 3 instrumentals on an album? The very simple answer is why not?…there are no rules in Metal.” Emerging from behind the vocal obfuscation, these songs highlight the special gift Steve has for writing head banging riffs.
The highlight of the remainder is “Twisted Revolution”. A refreshing departure from the opening tracks with a dark sound similar to Judas Priest’s “Night Crawler” both musically and vocally.
Back In Hell is obviously a labor of love for Steve. He states “I’m very proud of what’s been created and released. Very happy too.” As a solo creation, it’s impressive. However, in comparison with bands leveraging the creativity of a group, it’s average. It’s easily digested in small doses, but lacks the depth for repeated listens.
TRACK LIST (Highlights: 1, 5, 6, 7, 8)
1. Back In Hell
2. The Whisperer
3. What’s Left Of Me
4. The Prophet
5. Arabian Nights
6. Out Of This World
7. The Midas Touch
8. Twisted Evolution
9. The Slain/Ties That Bind
10. Haunting Misery
11. The World Is Ablaze