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Steel Attack: Where Mankind Fails

Steel Attack is a Swedish Power Metal group that surfaced in the late nineties. The project was formed by the duo of ex-Carnal Forge members Steve Steel (Leech, Wasteland Skills) and John Allan Forssen (former Avenue), while the rest of the line-up constantly shifted. Other members over the years included former and active members of bands like Soulskinner, Starblind, Blackworld, Nightfall, Wolf, and even Bible Black just to name a few. Over the years, this entity spawned six full-length efforts, all of which well received by critics and the fans of the genre who knew where to look. But, sadly, here in North America at least, it was their debut album Where Mankind Fails that was a major oversight back when it first came out, and even to this day.

Over the years, Steel Attack had built up a strong fan base, especially after signing with the German mega label Massacre Records. Their debut effort, however, found itself split between AFM Records and Metal Blade Records, the latter of which ly for distribution in North America. Over seas, Where Mankind Fails was met with a far warmer reception than here in North America, eventually finding itself on many a clearance bin. That is, if your store even carried it. I know in my little corner of Pennsylvania it was scarce at best.

To be honest, I had never even heard of these guys until years after its release. Back in 1999, the internet hadn’t quite become the power house it is today, and it probably would have done a little better had it been. The only reason this album is in my collection is thanks to finding it for sale on Amazon.com back in 2003 or 2004 for a penny plus shipping. I mean, how the hell could I pass that up? Basically three dollars US for a factory sealed album on a label I highly trusted from a Power Metal band I get the chance to explore? I was sold. About three bucks (maybe more, I forget if there was tax) a week later, it showed. I was antsy to give it a spin, but at the time it took a back seat to some of the other purchases I had made.

When I did finally get to this one, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t ground breaking, or even all that unique, but it was still well done release I did not regret ordering. The music felt a little weaker than it should have been, but it didn’t take away from that glorious Heavy Metal sensation that reminded me of early Hammerfall with a subtle Rhapsody majesty without the keyboards. A minute into “Dragon’s Skull”, I was sold on this album, as well as the band. But then there are the grittier slower tracks like “Village of Agabha” that carried themselves more as Heavy Metal ballads ripped right from the eighties.

Sadly, this isn’t the first Metal Blade release I’ve come across where the label dropped the ball in promoting here in North America. Next week I’ll be taking a look at yet another Heavy Metal group that didn’t fare too well, overlooked by both the label and fans. But, in this case, at least the overseas support was there, leading to a couple more albums over the years. It’s a shame the group is on hold right now, but hopefully they come back stronger than ever soon.

In the meantime, if you find yourself craving some cheesy nineties Power Metal, Where Mankind Fails is a good place to start. It’s a shame this one didn’t get the reception it should have at launch, but this means you can find it cheap on-line used. Out of curiosity I hit up Amazon again to see what a new copy sells for, which wound up being over eighteen dollars. However, you can pick up a used copy for fifty cents plus shipping, which is well worth the value if you don’t care too much about artwork, grab a digital download, even find the album streaming on Youtube if you’re into doing that. So, really, there’s no excuse not to give this one a quick spin.

Physical material for this article provided by personal funds.