MATTHIAS STEELE — Haunting Tales of a Warrior's Past (review)

MATTHIAS STEELE — Haunting Tales of a Warrior's Past album cover Album · 1991 · US Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Obscure, Forgotten and Otherwise Hard to Find Metal Albums #2

US power metal can be a tricky genre at times. It's also one that had its surge in the eighties, a time when it was the only power metal as the now more well known European brand was only born in 1987 with Helloween and kicked off from there. These days when someone says the term power metal that's the sound that most of us will think of, to the point that a lot of people now say that USPM was actually just heavy metal (which I personally do not agree with but that's not a debate for this review). Matthias Steele, which despite the name is a band rather than a solo artist, were a USPM group with a strong thrash metal side to them that released their debut album Haunting Tales of a Warrior's Past in 1991, which by all accounts seems to have been a pretty damn awkward time to be a relatively new USPM act (Iced Earth being a noted exception) on the metal scene. In point of fact it took Matthias Steele until 2007 to produce a follow-up album, the hopefully titled Resurrection, which seems to have gone even more under the radar than this first one did. To my knowledge, Haunting Tales of a Warrior's Past has never been released on CD, just cassette. I only got to hear this due to it, like most things these days, finding its way onto YouTube. It would be awesome if one of these labels that specialises in old forgotten metal albums such as Cult Metal Classics Records were to reissue Haunting Tales of a Warrior's Past, as this one truly is a lost gem of US power metal.

The album is actually something of a US power metal and thrash metal crossbreed, but the emphasis is clearly on the power metal side in both the riffs and vocals. The vocals I think are the most acquired taste aspect of Matthias Steele's music, but I think perhaps the same can be said of a lot of US power metal vocalists, who are usually big fans of the high register, and Anthony C. Lionetti III certainly hits the highs across the album. It may especially be a bit much to take in the track Father Has Risen, though the song is otherwise strong as anything else on the album. I'd go as far to say that riff-wise it's actually a highlight.

The music, as is normal for a USPM or thrash metal band, is quite riff driven though Matthias Steele do break away from the usual USPM avoidance of keyboards and feature a guest keyboardist on the album, but the use of the keys doesn't push the music into European power metal's cheesier territory, but rather add atmosphere and depth to the music. The riffs themselves can push towards the technical side of USPM but only ever dip a toe into the progressive side of the genre. The early instrumental piece Warrior's Anthem is a good showcase of the band's prowess as musicians. The album shows it's diversity as well, including the slower paced Shadow of Illusion which features some heavy use of acoustics, though is still very much a metal song, really giving it some oomph at the end too.

I'm occasionally reminded of the work of some of their better known contemporaries including Iced Earth, but mostly I feel that Haunting Tales of a Warrior's Past has its own thing going for it. With the right breaks I think that Matthias Steele could have been a much better known band. Haunting Tales of a Warrior's Past seems to be quite well regarded in the underground circles that are aware of its existence, but I'm not sure that those circles are very large, which is a real shame. I fully believe that this one is worthy of 5 stars.
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more than 2 years ago
James Jordan here to let you know that the CD version available in the wild right now for HTOAWP is a vastly inferior product and I recommend you not wasting your hard-earned $$$ now.

My feelings why - if you search Gurgle hard enough you can find out.

The material has been remastered and is currently awaiting the light of day! I have it and it brings more separation and tonality to the songs!

Patience! Good things coming for HTOAWP. As I am no longer in the band you should contact Tony Lionetti for info on this release. Find him on YT, FB and the like.

Questions? Feel free to hit me up and I will try to answer as much as I can!
([email protected]).

I am in the process of getting back into the music scene and will soon have a YouTube channel for drum covers and the like. I think I will even cover my tracks from HTOAWP in case anyone is interested in seeing what I played.

Till then,
Hang Loose and Stay Heavy!
James Jordan
Twit - @JamesJordanDrums

adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Yeah I know. I'm pretty pleased by that though sadly I haven't managed to pick up a copy yet (soon, I hope). Decided to leave the review as is; it's in context for the date it was posted.
more than 2 years ago
Looks like you got your wish now:

Makes a couple of bits in your review redundant now though!

I'm tempted to order a copy myself. Your review really sells this one.

adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Thanks for the comments everyone. Glad you liked it Nicole. I'm really hoping this one gets reissued one day.
666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Listening now. So far, I'm liking this a lot. Good find.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Sounds interesting.
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Great review, sounds like something right up my alley. I'll have to give it a listen.


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