Sergeant Steel: ‘Truck Tales’
Released on January 22, 2021 (Boyz Time Records Musiklabel)
It’s been over half a decade since Austrian rockers Sergeant Steel released their weirdly titled Raiders of The Worm album, but now they’re back with the equally intriguingly titled Truck Tales. Guitarist and main songwriter Jack Power told Sleaze Roxx some time ago that “truck driver clichés have always fascinated us…” so it is therefore quite strange that the resulting album appears to feature absolutely no truck related songs at all!
Be that as it may, the album opens, heralded by police sirens, with the anthemic, fist waving rocker “Fight Fire With Fire” that seems to hit all the right spots in the attention grabbing stakes. “Backseat Lover” ensures that attention is firmly grabbed with a great chorus and mammoth hooks. Surely this has to be a single in the very near future? If it isn’t, you would have to question managerial decisions because this is as melodic and radio friendly as AOR could probably get. “Dance Into The Night” continues the hook laden vein with a superb burst from keyboardist Ben Bateman who really drives the funky aspect of this song along and that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on an early Extreme release.
Having channelled their inner Nuno Bettancourt vibes, the band members then decide to do a “more than words” type effort with the next track “Brotherhood.” This completely breaks down the cool, fun vibe that they have almost seamlessly built up. There is nothing essentially wrong with a song about banding together and taking on the world, but the lyrics are cheese sliced thick and mildly embarrassing. It is also completely out of place on an album that was more than suggesting real quality. The poor lyricism continues on “Voodoo Queen” which at least has the decency to pick up the pace, however generically. “Body Language” redresses the balance a little further with its shades of early ’90s funksters Two Bit Thief which, to my mind, is no bad thing as I thought they were cool anyway.
“Pain In My Ass” gets back to the hook/chorus business with a snarling performance from vocalist Phil Vanderkill — who was probably rightly annoyed at the couple of duff tracks in the middle of the album, and appears to relish his opportunity to showcase that fact in probably the sleaziest song of the album. “Hunter” is next up with yet another huge chorus and the rest of the band grabbing their chance to shine even further, with terrific bass from Ronny Rox, quality drumming once more from Cosy Coxx, and the twin guitar work of Chuck Boom and the aforementioned Jack Power giving an epic feel to a very good song that even includes a brass section!
“The Time Will Come” has a massive Survivor feel to it — which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your point of view of course. Personally, I quite liked it — even if it did slightly make me feel like running up some town hall steps. The album ends pretty much as it had begun, with another rousing, straight ahead rocker in “Nightmare” that further illustrates the band’s potential stadium dwelling possibilities.
So, has it been worth the wait ? On the whole, yes. The first three tracks alone are worth the price of the album and they do redeem themselves well after the middle section blip. The band members are tight throughout and are obviously enjoying themselves, complimented by Vanderkill’s largely quality vocals — although he does sound ever so slightly strained in one or two places.
It’s obviously not all killer; there is some filler as I mentioned earlier, which is a shame because these guys really do know their way around a hook or three. If you like your AOR excellently produced, catchy and a barrel load of fun, then you could do a whole lot worse than these guys. Just ignore a couple of tracks in the middle and the fact that there are no songs about trucks!
01. Fight Fire With Fire
02. Backseat Lover
03. Dance Into The Light
05. Voodoo Queen
06. Body Language
07. Pain In My Ass
09. The Time Will Come
Phil Vanderkill – lead vocals
Jack Power – guitar, backing vocals (add. lead vocals, bass, keyboards, percussion, sitar)
Chuck Boom – guitar, backing vocals (ad. lead vocals, violin)
Ronny Cox – bass
Ben Bateman – keyboards
Cosy Coxx – drums
Brigitte “Bibi” Wiefel – additional background vocals
Stella Wiefel – kid vocals
Produced by Jack Power
Arranged by Jack Power and Sergeant Steel
Recorded by Jack Power, Chuck Boom and Ben Bateman
Mixed by Michael Wagener (2, 3, 5 to 10)
Mixed by Jack Power (1, 4)
Mastered by Jack Power
Reviewed by Rockney Colin for Sleaze Roxx, April 2021
Sergeant Steel‘s “Nightmare” lyric video:
Sergeant Steel‘s “Fight Fire With Fire” video: