Review: Sergeant Steel – Mister Sippi
Metalapolis Records (June 30th 2023)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
I’m not overly familiar with the band Sergeant Steel. I bought one song from them (‘Cry Out Your Heart, Baby!’) way back in 2013 and then they dropped off my radar. I had no idea they released several albums since then, with Metalapolis Records releasing their latest, ‘Mister Sippi’. With fresh ears, I gave this album a once through and the album damn near gave me whiplash.
This band is all over the place, but in a good way. The band incorporates various 80s hard rock band archetypes, with songs bouncing back and forth in style. One minute you’re listening to a song that could have been recorded by Great White or Cinderella and the next song will sound like Dokken or Bon Jovi.
The difference is noticeable right from the start. Opening track ‘Down To Mississippi’ is a blues-based track with that Great White/Cinderella vibe I mentioned before, a rock n’ roll swagger that feels warm and familiar without feeling like clones of those bands. The very next track is completely out of left field, the metallic and bombastic ‘Please Me Tease Me’. All the acoustic and bluegrass instruments are replaced with cranked guitars and pounding drums. It sounds like two completely different bands, with both of them sounding like masters of their respective crafts.
Many songs remind me of distinct bands but the songs never sound like rip-offs of those bands. ‘Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool’ could easily be mistaken for a Meatloaf cover, complete with striking piano keys and a horn section. ‘Knight’s Tale’ is straight-up Spread Eagle. The techniques displayed by guitarists Jack Power and Chuck Boom are remarkable, with their mastery of genres and styles. One of my favorite tracks is one I could not place to any previously established band. ‘Caught In The Web’ has a dark and sinister vibe. This is my favorite vocal performance from Phil Vanderkill. His tessitura is impressive throughout the album, but I love the way his vocal growls gel with the highs he laid down as background vocals to accompany the chorus.
While I dug most of the tracks, I was not impressed with the two ballads on the album (’My Way’ and ‘My Girl’). It’s hard to pinpoint band inspirations for either of these. They’re not bad, just bland and unmoving. Finally, believe me when I say that you don’t need the bonus track ‘Cry Out Your Heart, Baby! Unplugged’. I appreciate the band has a sense of humor but if you’re going to bring a kazoo into the recording studio, you’re guaranteed to ruin your song. Stick to the original everyone.
I decided to do a quick comparison of this release by streaming their last album, 2021’s ‘Truck Tales’. ‘Mister Sippi’ is a vast improvement to that album. I have not checked out their other releases, but if you were not a fan based on what came before, you need to check out this album. It’s diverse in all the right ways and a lot of fun to listen to. Whether it’s blues, sleaze, glam, or theatrical rock you’re into, you are bound to find something to love here. The more sub-genres you like, the more you will enjoy the album. As someone who’s into many sub-genres, this is surely going to make it onto my best of list for the year.
- Down To Mississippi
- Please Me Tease Me
- Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool
- My Way
- One Way Ticket From Hell
- Knight’s Tale
- Caught In The Web
- My Girl
- Rock Your Pants Off
- Cry Out Your Heart, Baby! Unplugged (Bonus Track)
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