STAIRWAY - THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT - DEOCD
Stairway is apparently a bigger name in Christian metal circles. The British band has had several previous albums which have gone as far as getting on miscellaneous readers’ charts as far afield as Japan. The quartet has a surprising sound hinting at NWOBHM and a strong Saxon sound. The comparison to Saxon of late ”˜80s is clear in both the music and the vocals of Graeme Leslie. While Leslie also plays the guitar, it is presumably Pete Jennens who shreds like a maniac. There are leads, runs and soaring axe eruptions all over this album. That is how the album begins with No Mercy and Sea Of Fools. Burn is not a Deep Purple cover and ironically starts rather slowly before becoming one of the album’s faster moments in the second half. Incidentally, one problem with The Other Side Of Midnight (aside from a cliché title) is the lack of faster cuts. Stairway can cut it during faster tempos so why it doesn’t mix things up is not obvious. Pray For The Children is more solemn with an Yngwie-like lead guitar part. Leslie’s voice at the beginning of Taste The Blood reminds one of Dio in the late '70s and early '80s. The band kicks in a couple of slow songs before the Yngwie Malmsteen-esque instrumental Cantabile. Death & Destruction brings forth another big problem with this album, which is the production. The band loses points because of the dull and quiet sound that buries the instruments. The band obviously has had a low budget to work with.
Stairway is a godsend for fans of classic metal and hard rock. Many will be turned off by the Christian this and God that lyrics (“we’re the soldiers of heavaaaaaan..."), but there is no getting away from that here. The quartet should really invest in a better sound next time that gives power to the instruments because there is some good material here. - Anna Tergel