Once the incredibly Slayer-like charge of "Born in Blasphemy" begins, you know you're either going to be in 80s speed/thrash metal paradise or bored to tears by yet another spike and leather imitator, but really this what Fatal Embrace were already up to for many years. Dark Pounding Steel is their third album, and it trades in a little of the atmosphere of its predecessors The Ultimate Aggression and Legions of Armageddon for a little more unbridled speed and chaos. All caution is thrown to the wind as the band channel their thrills into the dark, pounding substance of its title, and if you seek the halcyon days of blinding hostility that characterized Sodom, Tankard, Slayer, Kreator, etc, then you could probably be tapped to join this band.
Of course, there's nothing remotely interesting or innovative occurring on this record, so it relies entirely on nostalgia and the actual formation of its chorus sections and searing guitars to get by. Unfortunately, while both exist here, neither are ever very standout on the quicker cuts. So "Born in Blasphemy" and "Assassination" both barrel by without anything that sticks to the conscience. "Don't Sacrifice My Soul" is slower and cooler, with some clean guitars perking up the doomed atmosphere, before it transforms into a Sodom-like mid paced thrasher, but then it's straight back into quick mode with "Storming In My Mind" and "Evil Dead". The latter is quite a decent Death cover, with its hellish melodies and good, bloodied vocals and blitzing velocity, but it takes a few tracks before something else of its quality arrives, "In Black Years of Pain" which has at least a few exciting, busy riffs and off the cuff leads. "Dark Pounding Steel" itself ends the album, with a Kreator and Sodom like sequence of riffs, and this too could be numbered among the better songs.
If this album came out in 1987, then it might have whipped up a storm among the legions of Slayer and Dark Angel fans, but though it nails the authentic production values to the period, it's just not that interesting. The first two albums were a little less ballistic, sure, but they were also better to listen straight through, just as in tune with the nostalgia being summoned here. Dark Pounding Steel obvious had a slightly higher profile, being put out through Pure Steel, and it ended up getting the band a deal with Metal Blade for their follow-up The Empires of Inhumanity (slightly superior to this), but I can't help but feel the band peaked earlier if they just keep up this charmless level of voracity.
Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]