Steel City – Fortress 2018 album review. 4.5 star rating.

Steel-City-album-cover-e1515726018974

Steel City

‘Fortress’

2018 release from Kivel Records.

Steel City – ‘Turnabout’ audio video.

Bryan Cole – Vocals. Mike Floros – Guitar, backing vocals. Scott West – Bass, backing vocals. Ron McCloskey – Drums, backing vocals.

Additional musicians: Tony Stahl – Keyboards. Mike Talanca – Bass, tracks 1,5,7,9.

Artist location: Pennsylvania, USA. Ohio, USA.

4.5 out of 5 stars rating.

Reviewed by David.

  1. Do You Love Me.
  2. Heart And Soul.
  3. Turnabout.
  4. Picture Of Beauty.
  5. Too Little Too Late.
  6. Someone Like You.
  7. Passing Ships.
  8. Shame On You.
  9. Rock! In The USA.
  10. Back On The Streets (Vinnie Vincent Invasion cover).

My first introduction to Bryan Cole came only a short time ago in 2016 with the release of his first solo album, the phenomenal ‘Sands Of Time‘ record. When I first saw the unassuming guy posing in the promo pictures I was certainly not expecting my ears to be greeted by the powerhouse vocals that I heard come blasting through my speakers. Though in hindsight I guess I should not have been surprised to hear such a voice on the record as it was none other than the legendary Jim Peterik (Survivor, The Ides Of March, Pride Of Lions, Peterik & Scherer) who had provided the majority of the songs for that album.

That fact alone should clue you in to what kind of pipes this man has on him.

Having to stand behind that mic and sing the songs of an artist that has had such amazing vocalists singing his songs as the late, great Jimi Jamison (Survivor), Toby Hitchcock (Pride Of Lions) and Marc Scherer (Peterik & Scherer), not to mention the man himself, is by no means an easy feat as those are some gigantic shoes to fill, but anyone who has heard Cole’s solo record, or heard the man sing at all, can attest to the fact that this guy can flat-out sing!

Since that time I have followed him closely, itching to hear more from this incredible vocalist.

To my surprise my next taste came in the form of some live footage of a show that Cole did when asked to front the classic band Giant, a band I have always adored, for a single live show. Not surprisingly Bryan absolutely killed it and once again proved himself by following in the footsteps of two more amazing vocalists, Dann Huff and Terry Brock, and more than holding his own.

Suffice it to say, I am a huge fan of this guy now so when I heard that Bryan was attached to a new project I was excited. Then I learned that Mike Floros (Idora) was not only also attached to the project but it was actually his project and his songs that made up this record. I was doubly excited, this guy can tear a guitar up folks! I also knew that this would likely mean that we were going to get to hear Cole singing a bit more of a harder rock style than his solo record allowed.

Scott West and Ron McCloskey fill out the rest of this new project on bass and drums, I was ready to have the record right then and there!

As if this considerable talent was not enough to secure my excitement, I then learned that one of my absolute favorite artists, and one of the nicest guys in the world, Johnny Lima, was going to be producing it. I was through the roof! Being that I am not made of money, when it comes to purchasing albums then, like most of you, I have to pick and choose carefully what I will buy, which makes it very tough when we have so much amazing music coming out in our genre these days. There are however a very few artists that I will buy sight unseen when I see their name attached to a project, Johnny is one of those artists for me, when I see his name then I know that I will be getting a quality record and I did in fact pre-order this record before I heard a single note from it.

Indeed there was no way I could see myself not enjoying this album.

Unfortunately I now had to sit back, twiddle my thumbs and wait for the album to release before I got to hear what kind of magic these guys had cooked up and delivered to us. Thankfully I had some utterly fantastic releases that I had been looking forward to for some time, like the new Maverick and W.E.T. albums, to help get me through until the record dropped.

We are only in March and already what an amazing year for melodic rock! I love it!

Well that day finally arrived and I came home from work one day to find a package in the post that contained the album.

Steel City’s debut record, ‘Fortress‘, was finally here and I was stoked!

Beyond excited and ready to hear what I had been waiting on so…ahem, patiently :-), I told my family to leave me be for a little while, shut myself in my “man cave” (okay, okay, so it is really just an extra room in the house we mostly use for storage…and me occasionally… hey you gotta work with what you got!), ripped into the package, unwrapped the CD and popped into my player (yes, I still use actual CDs and CD players, digital is not for me!). With the earbuds firmly secured in my ears and ice cold beer in my hand, I sat back and prepare myself to be amazed!

It didn’t take long once the first track, ‘Do You Love Me‘, came filtering through the earphones for me to realize that I had been correct, this was, in fact, going to be a bit of a different side of Bryan Cole than we had heard on ‘Sands Of Time‘. This opening track is an upbeat one with some great guitar work, some great harmonizing and a terrific melody. It is one of my favorite songs of the record and it leads us in ‘Heart And Soul‘, a rocker that Cole shows off his range on. Excellent vocal delivery here.

Track number three, ‘Turnabout‘, is another standout for me and contains some excellent guitar work from Floros. A great, rocking tune.

Picture Of Beauty‘ is probably the weakest track of the album in my opinion, not a bad song however and it takes us to another of my favorites in ‘Too Little Too Late‘, a terrific track.

Someone Like You‘ is a fantastic, mid-tempoed pop rocker that leads to ‘Passing Ships‘, great guitar work on this one.

Shame On You‘ brings a little groove to the record before heading into the upbeat, fun and, yes, rocking, ‘Rock! In The USA‘, a definite favorite.

Closing out the record is a cover of Vinnie Vincent Invasion’sBack On The Streets‘ from their 1986 self-titled album and the guys do a great job with it, closing the record out nicely.

Killer guitar work throughout the entire album (there is barely a track here without at least one scorching solo present) backing some truly tremendous vocals (holy crap! just more reiteration here on what an astounding voice Bryan has!) that are backed by an excellent rythym section. All of these forces join together and bring to life some fantastic songs from the pen of Floros, this guy can not only shred, he can write some damn fine songs as well!

Production wise, this record is top notch, of course. Johnny did an excellent job as expected and the entire album sounds fantastic.

I was not disappointed in the least with the record. These guys came out with a hell of a debut and I can only hope that this is only the first of many albums we will get from them.

One of the great things, for Stateside fans like me, is that, like Lima, Marc Scherer and Toby Hitchcock, these guys are here in the USA. A real rarity for our genre to be sure. Hopefully that means we will get to see some tour dates here in the States!

Melodic rock lovers should find more than enough to satisfy them with this record. Hooks galore, out of this world vocals and blazing guitar solos make this one of the must have albums of 2018 in my book.

If you like bands like Giant then check these guys out. I highly doubt you will be disappointed!

Highly recommended.

Standout Tracks:

Do You Love Me‘.

Heart And Soul‘.

Turnabout‘.

Too Little Too Late‘.

Someone Like You‘.

Passing Ships‘.

Shame On You‘.

Rock! In The USA‘.

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