OUT f’n Standing! That is pretty much my entire review of the debut album entitled Fortress from Ohio based rockers Steel City. If you are searching for a melodic pop metal masterpiece, you just found it. After just one listen, Fortress is flirting with my top spot on my Best of 2018 list. It’s that fucking good, no joke.
About a month ago, I was invited to come “like” the Steel City Facebook page. Always open to the idea of discovering some cool new music I checked out their page. I was then directed over to Soundcloud to have a listen to one of the tracks featured on the upcoming release. “Do You Love Me” was the track and I was blown away, melodic with great hooks and vocal harmonies that would put Journey to shame. I couldn’t wait to hear more. So intrigued, in fact, that I reached out to guitarist/songwriter Mike Floros asking when I could get my ears on the rest of this record. I really liked this song.
What started out as a solo album project of Mike Floros (Idora), Mike was introduced to vocalist/producer/songwriter Bryan Cole. Whoever introduced these two, I need to personally thank as Steel City was born and Fortress then created.
Finally, the Fortress album is knocking my dick in the dirt as I type up this review. I will say it again OUT fucking Standing! This record totally takes me back to those Saturday afternoons as a teenager when we would ride the bus into the city and spend all afternoon at the record stores. Hard rock ruled the airwaves and television screens and the new release section at the record store was littered with glorious melodic pop metal bands. Ratt, Dokken, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Winger, Warrant, it was a veritable smorgasbord if you were a rock fan.
The feeling I would get when I would get home and get to spin one of these new albums. The riffs, the hooks, the melodies would stir my soul. The really good records had the power to physically move me. Headbanging, air guitar, fist in the air! At 16 years old this was all too common, at 47 it takes a killer record, Fortress is absolutely one of those records.
How would I describe Steel City and Fortress to the uninitiated? Ok grab a blender, combine the pop sensibilities of vintage Bon Jovi (nothing past New Jersey era), the soaring vocals of Journey, the vocal harmonies of Def Leppard (think Hysteria) and the ripping guitar shredding of Lynch/Vincent (yeah that Vincent!). In fact the final cut on Fortress a ripping cover of Vinnie Vincent Invasion‘s “Back on the Streets”.
The aforementioned “Do You Love Me” opens the album and the Vinnie Vincent cover closes out Fortress. In between, you get eight more well crafted, perfectly executed melodic rock songs. Every one of these songs could be a hit radio single, that is if radio would remove its head from its ass long enough to play some good music. My personal highlights would be the down and dirty “Heart and Soul”, listen to those guitar solos! My absolute favorite track “Turnabout”, smoking hot pop metal perfection, infectious and fun as shit. Que the air guitar!!! As far as anthems, “ROCK in the USA” is as good a fist-pumping classic as any out there. Lastly, the bridge in “Too Little, Too Late” is so Bon Jovi I can smell New Jersey from here.
One more time, this album is “OUTSTANDING”! If Fortress had been released in 87, platinum album awards would adorn the walls of both Casa Floros and Casa Cole. Get off yer ass and order this now, you will thank me later.
Get your copy of Fortress by sending $16.50 in the US, $21.50 USD for the world via PayPal to RockHauseMusic@hotmail.com. (Price includes Shipping) or visit the following links to get yours.
BUY: Fortress on NEH Records / AOR Heaven / Boones Overstock