Stairway was formed in 1978 and is known for playing classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which took the world by storm in the eighties. NWOBHM covered a diverse range of bands and included Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon and Motorhead. The UK band’s debut ‘No Rest : No Mercy’ (1993) was produced by Paul Hodson (Hard Rain / Bob Catley). This was followed by ‘Bleeding Heart’ (1999) and ‘On Hallowed Ground’ (2002). Then interest in the debut album began to take off and Stairway signed a deal with Retroactive Records to re-release the ‘No Rest: No Mercy’ album. They went on to release ‘The Other Side of Midnight’ (2006) and ‘Interregnum’ (2010).
The band now comprises Graeme Leslie (lead vocals & bass), Pete Jennens (lead guitar) and Andy Edwards (drums). They return in force with ‘Power and Glory’ (2016). Reflecting the fact that this is classic eighties metal, the artwork is by Rodney Matthews (Magnum, Praying Mantis, Asia).
If I didn’t know better, I would have thought the band had been hit by lightning as there is definitely an extra surge of power. The next thing that you notice is that the guitars have returned to their rightful place in a full-frontal assault. In ‘Lucy Fuhr’ there is a tongue-in-cheek play on words too. “Lucy Fuhr, I do concur / Is an evil bird, or so I’ve heard / She’ll give a wink and cause a stink / And ride a smile a country mile”
An air raid siren and falling bombs herald the opening to ‘1917 – Fatherless Child’ as it raises the tempo for a foreboding tale of warfare. There is also more space for Pete Jennens excellent riffage to emerge. After a short interlude, ‘A Mind Insane’ takes it down a notch for a staccato rhythm. Then ‘Reason Why’ takes a lighter tone with a hard rock guitar solo.
Their longest track is the epic ‘Sun Of Malachi’ with its five themes of lamentation, affliction, perdition, supplication and redemption. This allows for a progressive approach to contrast lighter and heavier parts alongside some experimentation. “O Sun of Malachi – Bright Sun of Malachi”.
It’s back to more classic metal with a galloping romp in ‘Raise Our Hands’ in a battle against evil. “Raise our hands, we’ll raise our hands / With sword of truth we’ll make a stand / We’ll ride across the burning sky / And fight the kingdom of the lie”. Swiftly followed by ‘Godz’ with its up-tempo histrionics, making these two songs stand out as my personal favourites.
‘World In Black’ slows down the pace whilst keeping an aggressive tone. “World in black, we stand in fear / The dark horizon re-appears / Take a stand, or he’ll be back / Lucifer will keep the world in black!”. There is a melodic interlude before they return with a hard rock semi-ballad approach on ‘Across The Moon’.
Graeme said “The album talks about promises satan gives us; offering us power, fame and fortune and the opportunity to be gods, when in the end we find they are all empty promises and lies and will lead the world into infinite darkness (World in Black). Yet if we rely on Christ (my rod and my staff – Interlude 23) and follow Him the true Light, he will lead us Across the Moon to live eternally with Him in paradise”.
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby
1917 – Fatherless Child
A Mind Insane
Sun Of Malachi
Raise Our Hands
World In Black
Across The Moon
Graeme Leslie – lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
Pete Jennens – guitar, vocals
Andy Edwards – drums
Record Label: Independent, May 2016
An Interview with ‘Stairway’ (Sept. 2016)