NEPTUNE – Northern Steel (2020)
We’ll start this review with a recommendation: please do yourself a favor and get ”Northern Steel”, the new album by Swedes NEPTUNE. Do not be fooled by their name, the album title, or the cover artwork.
Why? Simply because these Scandinavians play old-school hard rock / classic metal like few today: melodic runs, twin guitars, the right amount of keyboards and ‘that’ classy vocals.
Think a mix of 220 VOLT, MADISON, the first EUROPE, GLORY, the melodious side of JUDAS PRIEST circa 1982, PRAYING MANTIS, etc… you’ll love this.
Neptune was formed in the 80s and built up a loyal fanbase over time, but only now finally are releasing their real debut album, 35 years after they pulled the plug from the band.
Early 2018, their collected demo recordings from the 1980s were released to the fans’ great satisfaction. The band was completely unaware that some of their old recordings were leaked online during the 2000s which found its way to fans around the globe.
The current sound of Neptune revisits their roots with a mixture of traditional hard rock and 80s melodic metal. Fleshing their sound a bit more, the listener can expect sharp riffs, strong guitar solos, solid vocal harmony, a touch of keyboards here and there, and a blend of gallop and groove from the rhythm section.
Exploring the album, you’ll find some steady classic metal with ‘Viking Stone’, ‘Ruler Of The Sea’, and ‘Fallen Nations’ with its fine bass and drum start. Also, the rhythm section, especially the bass, rises quite nicely within ‘Black Rain’.
Razor sharp riffs and faster groove arrive with ‘Run For Your Life’ and ‘Last Man Standing’ with its abundant and volatile guitar lines. Perhaps something a bit different, ‘Seriously’ sounds more like melodic hard rock with its upbeat groove and catchy chorus.
With ‘Land Of Northern’, you have a fine classic metal anthem / ballad with some keen choral vocal harmony and a spry, soaring guitar solo.
A trip back to the glory, true metal / hard rock sound of the ’80s, ”Northern Steel” is much more than an exercise of nostalgia; these are really good songs, very well performed and produced with an old-school vibe, like it needs to be to.
I can see why the album is being released via Melodic Passion Records: in NEPTUNE there’s a lot of passion on what they do, and lots of melody all over their music.
This type of music will never die, and the Swedes are here to prove it.
01. The Prophecy
02. Viking Stone
03. Last Man Standing
04. Fallen Nations
06. Northern Steel
07. Black Rain
08. Run for Your Life
09. Land of Northern
11. Ruler of the Sea
Roland “Rowland Alex” Alexandersson – Vocals
Anders “Andy Olson” Olsson – Guitars
Jonas Wikstrom – Drums
Jan Tosh Andersson – Bass
Johan Rosth – Keyboards
Pontus Norgren – Guitar (lead) (track 4)
Lars “Chriss” Christmansson – Guitar (track 5)
Euge Valovirta – Guitar (track 5)