Saturday, June 26, 2010


Stairway comes from the land of Saxon and Iron Maiden, the country of England. Interregnum is the title of their latest album, which by all accounts is their fifth release and the first collection of compositions in four years. Stairway has been built a lasting fan base since their debut, which seems like eons ago, in 1993.

Of immediate notice to me is the vocal prowess of Graeme Leslie. He has just enough grit and the ability to deliver a vocal line with smooth strength. He sings unlike so many other vocalists today who can’t hold a tune and hide it by screaming/gurgling their vocal lines.

On Interregnum Leslie and crew continue in the vain of traditional metal that they have become known for. You won’t find any trends or flavor of the moment trappings on this disc. This is straight out traditional heavy metal with some melodic trappings. In addition to those rich vocals Graeme handles the bass playing, Pete Jennens seems to be on a mission out to destroy his six string axe by setting his fret board on fire. His soloing falls into a somewhat neo-classical style. Andy Edwards rounds out the trio on drums.

Opening with a mid tempo pounder entitled ‘The Suffering Servant’; you immediately are introduced to the style of metal Stairway play. Straight ahead with minimal frills in the arranging department, just lots of metallic mayhem that would entrap any unsuspecting listener.

‘I’m Calling,’ ‘Ride the Wind,’ ‘Enter the Light’ all deliver a biting crunch that will get your head swaying. You’ll find good melodies offered with passion and authenticity. They will snatch you and find a place within your metal atmosphere.

I will say though, it does seem at times that the songs have a sort of ‘samey’ feel. Upon closer inspection, I believe that happens because many of the songs have the same tempo. The arranging could be part of the issue as well, the songs are not bad, but at certain points it starts to feel a bit tedious.

This is in no way a reflection on the musicianship of the band; it’s quite obvious that they are accomplished players in their own right. Graeme even adds keyboard parts in places, most noticeably on ‘New Life.’ This slight change of pace does mix things up a bit which brings some freshness to this release.

The production is average, yet it feels at times that the rhythm guitar gets lost without clarity. Whether this was an issue of tone or engineering is unclear to me, it strikes me that perhaps some breathing room would help.

On the whole this is a solid heavy metal album with everything a discerning metal head could hope for. Good songs, blistering solos and great vocals. If you’re a fan of 80’s heavy metal such as early Saxon, Iron Maiden, Riot you’re probably gonna want to check it out.

7 axes

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