“FULL STEAM AHEAD”
Title: Full Steam Ahead
Label: Retroactive Records (http://www.retroactiverecords.net)
Release Date: March 6, 2007
Catalog Number: RAR7818
Style: Heavy Metal
Tracks: 12 Time: approximately 45 minutes
Lyrics: Yes Insert: four page
Bonus tracks: 2 featuring Stryper drummer, Robert Sweet
ABOUT THE ALBUM
After releasing two revered metal classics (1995/2000 Maiden Voyage and 2002 Screaming In Silence) Titanic is back to recapture their heavy weight status with Full Steam Ahead! Guitarist Bill Menchen (Seventh Power/Final Axe) is a bonafide shredder, and new vocalist, David St. Martins has no problem sailing Titanic to the next level! The new album stays the course, offering 10 new tracks of Heavy Metal anthems not to be missed by fans of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Saint. As an added bonus, tracks 11 and 12 are re-recorded songs from Maiden Voyage, featuring Stryper’s Robert Sweet on drums!
KEY SELLING POINTS
**Stryper drummer, Robert Sweet plays drums on tracks 11, 12, which
are remakes from the debut. Robert re-recorded those tracks with the band.
**High production values
**For fans of Judas Priest, Barren Cross, Saint, Iron Maiden, Metallica,
Stryper, and Ozzy.
**Features Bill Menchen of Final Axe and Seventh Power fame
**Previous Titanic releases have sold swiftly and consistently.
**Features a track on the promotional compilation HEADBANGIN’ 101
**Full radio/advertising campaign
**Features track on the Heaven’s Metal Magazine subscribers compilation
Titanic got its start in the mid-nineties as a collaboration between guitarist Bill Menchen and vocalist Simon Tyler (aka: Keith Miles). The two hit the scene in 1996 with the driving metal of the bands full length debut Maiden Voyage before following up six years later with the more melodic based sound of its sophomore release Screaming In Silence. Full Steam Ahead, the most recent outing from Titanic, finds the group drawing upon the best elements of its first two albums to create by far its most noteworthy work to date. Heavy duty hard rockers “Dead Men’s Bones”, “Holy Ground”, “Deep Down” and “The Wind”, for example, would not sound out of place on Maiden Voyage, while the catchy hooks of “Shovel The Coal”, “Captain Of The Ship”, “Upon The Cross” and “The Sea” hearken back to Screaming In Silence. All in all, what Titanic delivers is an energetic blend of metal and hard rock that fans of Saint, Barren Cross, Ozzy, Judas Priest, Whitecross and Menchen’s other bands Final Axe and The Seventh Power will be certain to get into.
The main change to report in Titanic’s line up is the departure of long term vocalist Simon Tyler and the recruitment of his replacement David St. Andrew. First and foremost, I always been a fan of Tyler’s raspy vocal sensibilities (it is worth noting the major role he played in the bands history); that being said, newcomer St. Andrew takes things to the next level. Bringing a raw edged and gutsy vocal style that sounds like a combination of Kevin DuBrow (Quiet Riot) and Scott Wenzel (Whitecross), I find the guys gritty approach to be a nice change of pace. In a current metal environment imbued with so many high pitched and classic tenor vocalists – not that that is a bad thing – it is a welcome relief to finally hear a singer add some good old fashioned backbone to his delivery.
Founding member Bill Menchen, of course, puts on a virtual clinic on rhythm guitar, adorning the full length of the album with his mega tight sounding riffs (check out his work on “Dead Men’s Bones” and “Sons Of Thunder”). If anything, Full Steam Ahead can best be described as an album for those into a guitar driven sound of the aggressive and in your face variety (think Whitecross on steroids). And that is a very good thing. In my review of Screaming In Silence I made the statement that Menchen’s playing “can come across on the restrained side in that he rarely if ever cuts loose with any type of relevant lead guitar work”. Well, folks, I am happy to announce such is NOT the case here in that FSA is chock full of his adept soloing abilities. If in doubt, then check out the fiery side to his playing on “Shovel The Coal” and “Captain Of The Ship” or the bluesy stylings of “Deep Down” and “Holy Ground ”. Finally, it is worth pointing out that Menchen handles the albums bass guitar and keyboard duties and rounds out the rhythm section with drummer David White.
As for the albums production values? Well, the rhythm guitar delivers a mega-huge crunch, and the leads are cleanly mixed. The drums project a more than ample amount of punch and power.
Things get underway with “Shovel The Coal”, a driving hard rocker allowing the band to give full vent to its prodigious energy. The song kicks in to a snarling guitar riff before storming through its verse portions, breaking out in prevailing fashion for a catchy chorus highlighted by a trace of vocal harmonies. Menchen adds to the scene with a stretch fluid lead guitar work. Great song.
The up-tempo initiative is maintained on “Dead Men’s Bones”. This one proves quite the powerful piece – both musically and lyrically – with an avalanche of mega-tight riffs sustaining it from front to back. Give Menchen credit – what we have here is one of several tracks that finds him at the literal top of his game. The songs spirited chorus, at the same time, will have you singing along as well:
Raise the dead
Hear what the Spirit said
Make ‘em burn with Holy fire
Dead get raised
God be praised
He was and is the One
Who is to come
Introduced to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, “Deep Down” slowly grinds ahead until picking up in pace for an expeditious chorus in which a smooth sounding environment is put into place. I find the constant changes in momentum – from mid-tempo to faster paced – to help give this track its appeal. Not to mention a lyrical direction reflecting someone who has found the faith:
I feel faith – deep down
Once lost – now found
With feet – on the ground
Set free – glory bound
“Captain Of The Ship” immediately opens to a driving guitar riff before tapering off to a quietly played guitar line for its first verse. Flowing ahead in a tranquil manner, the song kicks into high gear as the rhythm guitar returns and urges things to an anthemic chorus that comes across gripping in its capacity. “Captain Of The Ship” showcases some of the albums finer lyrics:
All of time is passing by
We brave the waves and cold
All our time is drawing nigh
The journey of every soul
Take the hand of the One who knows
So what if the cold wind blows and blows
Read the compass that you got in your hand
You’ll never fail to stand
I might describe “Holy Ground” as one of the albums more laid back compositions. A plethora of driving impetus carries this one through its verse portions, the balanced setting upheld for a grave chorus in which a choppy rhythm guitar plays a prominent role. Several seconds of bluesy lead work complements the songs momentous feel.
“Sons Of Thunder” begins to a monstrous wall of rhythm guitar, decelerating upon obtaining its first verse only to pick back up in pace as a chorus of a straightforward but spirited variety is obtained. The tight sounding riffage shoring this one up gives rise to a near mesmerizing feel.
“Upon The Cross” is an emotional piece that details the life and person of Christ. The hammering guitar riff initiating the song holds sway over its verse portions hard and heavy, a prodigious bass line taking over as it obtains a groove flavored chorus in which the purpose of Christ is detailed:
Into the world
To seek and save the lost
His kingdom of another world
He died upon the cross
The lyrics here deserve further consideration:
In the town of Bethlehem
Is born the Nazarene
Gold and myrrh and frankincense
Are laid before the king
He is the door and is the way
From heaven He brings bread
The debt of sin was fully paid
Then He rose from the dead
Menchen’s punchy work on bass helps “Upon The Cross” to stand out in the crowd.
”The Wind” chops ahead forcefully from the start, gradually building in impetus until acquiring a resolute chorus delivered with just the right amount of aggressive touch. I enjoy how following its instrumental section the song tapers off to a near standstill as St. Andrew whispers over an edgy rhythm guitar:
What was He doing
What has He done
Don’t think that He was not the lonely one
His body was broken
Out His blood spilled
He rose again, to live again
‘Till all is fulfilled
“Wisdom” proves quite the rollicking number that grooves from start to finish, the up-tempo environment upheld as the band again puts forth quite the animated performance. The highlighting touch of piano underscoring the track over its final seconds is nothing less than perfectly placed. As its title implies, “Wisdom” can best be described as a musical book of Proverbs:
To know wisdom and instruction
To get words of understanding
To receive instruction
To give prudence to the simple
A wise man will obtain wise counsel
The fear of the Lord is instruction
Titanic saves perhaps its best for last in the apocalyptic hard rocker “The Sea”. The song begins slowly only to gradually build to a crescendo of biting riffs, an abundance of impassioned initiative taking over as the way is paved for an awe inspiring chorus guaranteed to draw you in with its infectious appeal. The apocalyptic feel to the song can be found in its lyrical direction:
I saw the dead
The small and the great
Stand before God
And before the lake
The sea gave up the dead
Who laid under the deep blue
Death and Hades gave the dead who where in them too
The album closes with two re-recorded tracks from Maiden Voyage that feature Robert Sweet (Stryper) on drums and original vocalist Simon Tyler. The first, “Nightmare”, is an aggressive hard rocker, while “Come Home”, the second, stands out with its notable melody. It is worth mentioning that “Come Home” was originally entitled “Hollywood Blvd” (my favorite track off Maiden Voyage) and has been reworked to now include a nice touch of acoustic guitar in its catchy chorus.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Shovel The Coal” (3:59), “Dead Men’s Bones” (3:12), “Deep Down” (3:13), “Captain Of The Ship” (4:28), “Holy Ground” (3:05), “Sons Of Thunder” (3:16), “Upon The Cross” (3:02), “The Wind” (3:59), “Wisdom” (3:30), “The Sea” (3:38), “Nightmare” (2:56), “Come Home” (2:38)
David St. Andrew – Lead Vocals
Bill Menchen – Guitars, Bass & Keyboards
David White – Drums