Unlike a Phoenix that bursts into flames only to be reborn from the ashes, Chris Boltendahl’s Steelhammer are already born on fire and set to ignite the metal world with euphoria.
With little room to breathe, one must hold on tight because Ghost Rider is going to take them on a musical Isle of Man TT experience. Joining Chris are Tobias Kersting and Lars Schneider (both ex-Orden Ogan) and Patrick Klose of Iron Saviour which only adds to the thrill of what’s to come.
The intro to the opening track ‘Reborn in Flames’ has a gradual but intense build-up starting with great fills with bass before the roaring guitars come in. Chris’ gravelly voice excels and cuts through like a hot knife through butter. The pace rarely drops during the course of the record and even the slower songs such as ‘Gods of Steel’ have a towering presence of the pounding drums with headbanging riffs that will make sure necks will hurt at the end. The tuning is lowered to Drop D with the key change enhancing the heaviness that gives an eerie feeling of being inside of the song.
Their newly released music video for ‘Fire Angel’ evokes a hopeless world being destroyed by apocalyptic forces who want to bring an end to civilization once and for all. This is reflected in the imagery where one can see a reminiscence of the films Metropolis and War of the Worlds. The chorus itself is scary enough to trigger nightmares with the words “fire angel” booming down one’s headphones followed by a ruthless double kick, deafening riffs and a skull-shattering solo. Going to hell is bad enough but in this case, being tortured is rather positive in such a musical way.
The old-school metal mixed with speed metal vibes are very much alive in the album with the 80s style tempos, thin guitar tones and rapid-fire solos. The sound is modern while the roots haven’t been lost, which is great as trying to put a new spin on successful things can sometimes sound overcooked. That’s not a problem though, as Steelhammer passed that test with flying colours.
While the band does have a unique style of their own, long-time fans of Grave Digger will have noticed that Chris has brought a lot of their influences to his solo material. The vocal phrasing, riffs, solos and double kick resemble albums such as The Clans Will Rise Again and Healed by Metal while sounding fresh and creative.
The only slight downside of Reborn in Flames is the production for the cymbals as the hi-hats are barely audible. The ones that can be clearly heard though, are the crashes. However, that isn’t enough to spoil the experience because the record on the whole is fantastic, which makes it the best way possible for Chris to kickstart a solo career.
Reborn In Flames will be released on July 28th via Roar! Rock Of Angels Records.