Home > Bust > Steel Mammoth – Atomic Mountain

Steel Mammoth – Atomic Mountain

Ektro Records, 2007

I don’t care if you’re a pop fan who likes coordinated dance moves and electro-falsetto effects, this album art has to draw you in.  A skull with ram horns, lightning bolts, and what looks to be some kind of World War I helmet is impressive by itself, but check out that band logo.  It has to mean guitar shredding and vocal wailing lies within.  I, uh, even dig the colors of orange, light brown and black.  That reminds me of Halloween YEAH!  Okay, so the three Finnish guys on the inside booklet look like they’re making a mockery of their band photos by posing like goofballs, but that can’t be enough of a deterrent from picking up this record.  This disc has to roar.

As much as the cover looks like this is going to be some kind of Motorhead at light speed, it is not an accurate representation of the band’s sound.  Steel Mammoth may be confident in their artistic choices of rock ‘n roll visages, but they end up hiding behind the amps and guitars with their music level.  “Black Team” does start off rather well, though it isn’t anywhere near the heavy metal I expected.  Instead, the songs reminds me of Steppenwolf and that “Magic Carpet Ride” song … which is a good song, sure, but it’s more of a jam than an exultant rocker.  Initially I waved it off as just a slow, safe start for Steel Mammoth.

“Heart of Bone” has a great squealing guitar amidst its sense of despair, and the chorus of “Barbarian lords, we ride alone/until we’re just a pile of bones” is an excellent mantra for barbarian dudes who can’t be bothered with those wenches and their emotional demands.  Unfortunately, after this one the songs get disappointing fast.  A song like “Blackout Leather” screams nitro shredding or at least some kind of howling.  Instead, it jollies along at mid-tempo with some very fey vocals by some guys named Garfield Steel and Juicyifer (nope, not the band Jucifer … well, that’d be confusing anyway).  Lemmy would even have a hard time making this a powerfully sounding rock effort, for despite moments of volume during the chorus the entire song goes on too long with a limp.

“Commando Leopard” sounds like it could be another flaming hammer to your skull if you heard it … and behold, it is!  But not in a great way at all, for the band sort of drones on for nearly three minutes before the noise sets in.  That’s right, for about nine minutes they just turn to a kind of space out music that would probably be the soundtrack to one’s time spent in a dungeon.  Strange echoes, rumblings, and what sounds like the crumpling of paper.  I guess they sort of gave up at this point.

If “Riders of Death” didn’t start off with some kind of riff that could hold one’s attention for at least ten seconds, this review was going to be over.  Thankfully, the guitar intro was somewhat interesting even if the rest of the song just sort of repeated it while dabbling with some high-pitched twanging by a second guitar.  The deeper chanting during the chorus is probably the best metal impression one is going to get from this record, which at least shows they could pull it off.  It’s too bad that, yet again, “Riders of Death” goes on too long for little reward.

You can hear a few tunes at MySpace or at Ektro Records if you wish, though make sure you don’t accidentally knock over your latte when snapping your fingers.

I had such high hopes for this record and the metal that it should have brought that I waited to listen to it for the right time.  I expected to drive everyone away within a mile radius due to the volume that would come out of my speakers.  Instead, it’s a rock ‘n roll album that people wouldn’t want to necessarily get out of their arm chairs to break a beer bottle for.  Whoever created that horned skull on the album cover should just sign up to craft Motorhead’s or Mastodon’s upcoming album and let Steel Mammoth mimic a Journey album cover for their next record.  Rock ‘n roll indeed.

So, despite a few decent songs, I’m labeling this one a bust.  It should have been better.  Since this is their debut record, there is certainly hope that Steel Mammoth has moved on from the lightweight rock to a stronger dose in later albums.  Listening to a few tunes on their MySpace page, the only one that stands out as something improved is “Nerheim War Cry”, which is a pretty good metal song.  If they record more of those, they can keep putting skulls on their album covers.  If not, perhaps an illustration of a plushy gray elephant is a better representation of what Steel Mammoth really represent.

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