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Stairway - The Other Side of Midnight

Stairway hits us now in 2006 with their fourth full-length release.  This British power metal band kicked out some pretty decent stuff on their first album, No Rest No Mercy.  And even though I never heard their 2nd and 3rd releases, this band still continues in the same vein with influences ranging from Helloween, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saint, and I'd have to say Narnia too.  While there is some nods to more modern power metal on The Other Side of Midnight, Stairway still continues to rely mostly on the musical formulas of the past to give us their sound.  Speaking of nods, the melodic and slower-paced side of the band along with the pulsing/monotonous bass in the song "Burn" will definitely be the track that reminds you of Narnia the most....well, at least the first half of the song before it kicks in high gear again.  The band showcases a touch of "attitude" in the second half of this song that helps give them more of an edge that is really needed to draw this album away from being too "nice".

Vocally, the band still suffers from the "solid, but nothing impressive" tag.  Don't get me wrong, the band does a good job vocally, I just wasn't blown away by anything I heard.  The other complaint I'd put on this album is that that drum sound just doesn't do it for me.  It's just lacks power in too many places.

Overall though, this is another consistent release by Stairway that seems to actually get stronger as the album goes on.  In fact, the songs tend to show a more aggressive nature towards the second half of the album that I'm really diggin'.  Then the album ends with a gorgeous ballad that somewhat reminds me of Stryper's "Honestly" in parts...especially Graeme Leslie's vocal inflections at the beginning of the chorus. 

If you liked this band's past material, my guess is that you'll love this as well.  Despite the apparently older ages of these guys (see band photos inside CD case), they don't shy away from bringing the metal. 

Rating: 75/100

Review By: Matt Morrow

Label: Independent

Total Songs: 11

Total Time: 55:23

Tracklisting: 1. No Mercy, 2. Sea of Fools, 3. Burn, 4. Pray for the Children, 5. Taste the Blood, 6. Lead Us, 7. She Calls, 8. Cantabile, 9. Death & Destruction, 10. Soldiers of Heaven, 11. My Life Goes On.

Best Songs: Tracks 5, 6, 7, 9, & 10

Band Lineup: Pete Jennens - Guitar/Backing Vocals, Rob Jennens - Bass/Backing Vocals/Keyboards, Graeme Leslie - Vocals/Guitar/Keyboards, Andy Edwards - Drums.

Band Website: http://www.stairwaymusic.co.uk