Where Mankind Falls

Steel Attack

AFM / Metal Blade Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/05/2001

I hate discs like this. There are so many discs in the metal genre that I've tried listening to, and just haven't been able to get into. (The same, actually, could be said about many other genres I've covered over the past 16 years, and not just metal.) Then, there are those discs you're ready to give up on, but something convinces you to give them just one more chance.

This is the case with Sweden's Steel Attack and their 1999 album Where Mankind Falls. I spent the better part of six weeks listening to this album, writing it off as typical Viking metal, and shoving the disc back in the corner. Finally, over the Labor Day weekend, I sat down with it and said, "Alright, I'm gonna get to the bottom of this disc once and for all."

In truth, Where Mankind Fallsmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 is not always the easiest disc to get worked up about. Early on, there are signs that the band - John Allan, Andreas de Vera, Steve Steel and Dennis Vestman - are walking on a musical path that has not only been previously laid, but has been trampled on by thousands upon thousands of barre-chord wanna-bes. On more than one occasion I was ready to toss in the towel after only listening to the opening track "Dragon's Skull". Lightning-fast guitar lines, double-bass kick drums, medieval imagery... been there, done that, tossed the Dungeons & Dragons dice down the toilet...

But where Steel Attack kept convincing me there was more to the hackneyed formulaic rock was on the title track, a song which still utilized some of the cliches, but worked in melody, harmony vocals and intriguing playing to make any listener stop and think twice. Maybe it was this one track that stuck in my mind and made me keep giving Where Mankind Falls chance after chance in the CD player.

In truth, the album mixes these spots of hope among the storyline that tries to tie everything together. And the more I listened to the disc, the more I admitted there were parts of songs like "Thunder Knight," "The Creation Of Be-Lou" and "Holy Sea Of Gold" that made me want to keep listening.

But Steel Attack seems to have a little difficulty establishing their own unique sound and brand of songwriting. I know it can be done, even as metal enters its fourth decade in existence (depending, of course, on which album you call the birth of the genre). So many other bands have done albums with themes of warfare, Medieval times and good triumphing over evil, that often it seems like Steel Attack is comfortable riding on those coattails. Musically, the promise is there - though the next time, I'd love it if the band members would list which instruments they played. (No, I didn't check their website this time around.) And, yes, this album is now going on two years old, so one could assume that Steel Attack has learned some things about their band and the musical scene they've embraced.

Is Where Mankind Falls a bad disc? No, but there's not terribly much new ground being broken by Steel Attack. This is a band who sounds like they could have a decent enough future ahead of them - that is, once they get comfortable in their own musical skin.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of AFM / Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.