Monday, June 10, 2024

Review: Durbin, "Screaming Steel"


After years of trying to cash in on his "American Idol" fame with more radio-friendly rock fare, James Durbin turned to his passion for 1980s metal on his 2021 album The Beast Awakens. While the style is not likely to land him on top of the charts, it did seem like he was having more fun. He's continued that on the follow-up Screaming Steel, wearing his influences on his sleeves and basically writing another love letter to classic metal.

What's hot?

The record is a treasure trove of Easter eggs and inside references for fans of classic metal. It starts in the title track, where Durbin throws out references to classic bands and songs almost non-stop. Is it campy? Absolutely. Do I care? Not at all. I'm banging my head and shouting them out along with him. The strongest performance on the album, in my opinion, though, is one of the shortest tracks here, the Dio tribute "The Worshipper 1897." I love the whole delivery, and it makes me wish that Dio was still around to maybe do a guest shot on it. 

What's not?

While songs like "The Worshipper" stand out, there are several songs on the record that kind of blend together. Even though I've been listening to the album for several months, there are still a few songs on it, like "Blazing High" and "Rebirth" that I couldn't tell you a whole lot about without going in and listening to them again.

The verdict

While I don't think Screaming Steel is as strong as The Beast Awakens, I still quite enjoy it. With some of those classic 1980s bands putting out great music this year, though, it's not quite as nostalgic as it would have been in the leaner years. I would like to see Durbin explore a little more melodically and make some of the less memorable songs stand out. I also know he loses credibility in the eyes of many metal fans because of his history on "American Idol." Honestly, I never thought I'd listen to an album by a former "Idol," but here we are, and it's a lot of fun.

Check out: "The Worshipper 1897," "Screaming Steel," "Where they Stand," "Made of Metal," "Beyond the Night," "Hallows," "Power of the Reaper"
Consider: "Blazing High," "Tear Them Down," "Rebirth"
Skip: None

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