Review: Shaft Of Steel Steel – Heartbeat
AOR Heaven (February 28th 2020)
Reviewer: David Pearce
Shaft of Steel are a band with an interesting history. They met and formed the first incarnation of the band in 2004 when they were at the Hull University. After the end of their degrees in 2007 they went their separate ways. Four years later they reformed and started playing live, building up a good following. An EP in 2014 was very well received by fans and music press alike. They intended to release an album soon afterwards, but things didn’t go as planned. They stuck to their guns though, and nearly six years later they are finally ready to release their debut album ‘Steel Heartbeat‘.
‘Touching You Every Day‘ starts off with a great guitar riff before Robert Fenning’s vocals kick in. it is a really smooth AOR track that gets the album off to a good start. ‘I’ve Never Been Alone (With a Girl Like You)‘ has a Genesis vibe to it that really works well. The keyboards of Chris Smurthwaite, guitars of Alex Markham and Chris Carruthers, drums Michael Levy and the bass of Dominic Swords blend perfectly on this track, showing the tightness that comes from years of playing together.
‘All Because of You‘ is an 80s inflected piece of soft rock that brings to mind Starship with its catchy tune and punch the air chorus. A Mr Mister style guitar intro moves in to heavier territory on ‘Together as One Tonight‘ becomes an anthemic soft rock track that will sound really good live. ‘Vulnerable Man‘ starts with Smurthwaite’s smooth keyboards and picks up pace as the guitars come in. Fenning discovers his inner Joey Tempest on this soft rock ballad which is one of my favourites on the album. ‘Falling Through the Flames‘ is a track that shows a harder edge to Fenning’s voice as the band look back to their original metal roots and demonstrates his range as a rock singer of real flair.
‘Body and Mind‘ reminds me of a chilled out Whitesnake track and it is quite simply marvellous. It’s my favourite on the album and would make a great single. ‘Lucky Girl‘ is a heavier track that plays to their strengths and sounds like another one that will become a live favourite. ‘You See Smoke When I See Fire‘ is as smooth as silk and confirms Shaft of Steel as melodic rockers of real talent.
The final track is ‘Every Time I Look at You‘ features a gorgeous keyboard intro which is reminiscent of Bruce Hornsby then morphs into a heavier song altogether courtesy of a guitar riff played over the top. Fenning once again shows his vocal chops by moving into the heavier end of his vocal range.
Shaft of Steel’s debut that has been a long time coming but it’s definitely been worth waiting for. It would be great to see the British sextet build on this and go from strength to strength over the next few years. They certainly have the talent and, as the last few years have shown they have the determination to overcome any obstacles in their way. Good luck, guys.