EMERALD STEEL, Emerald Steel (1990, Woodstock Discos)

The skull:
First you’re like, “What’s the worst he can do? Bite me? I can handle one fucking skull in a fight,” and then he shows up armed to the (grinning) teeth, and you’re like, “Aw, shit!”

The music:
How on earth have I never heard this before? I knew the name, and based on the cover, I assumed they were crappy NWOBHM. Instead, they’re more like a crappy Crimson Glory knock-off, which is exactly my kind of crap. Singer Wagner Geronymo (obviously his real name), a Brazilian transplant to Florida, has a strong, piercing high voice, and he delivers his lines with exactly the overblown theatricality you want in an act like this. His pitch sometimes doesn’t quite hit the mark, especially when he harmonizes, but when he lands it, he sounds great. The songs are not classics for the ages (see: “Sex Metal”), but they’re certainly better than a lot of other US power metal bands from the late 80s, comparing favorably with early Heir Apparent, Oracle, Sacred Oath, or others in that vein. If, like me, you already own all the classics, and all the second-tier guilty pleasures, and then all of the third tier junk from the heyday of American melodic metal, then it’s time to open a new tab, bring up eBay, and find yourself a Hot Metal bootleg of Emerald Steel, yet another band that deservedly fell through the cracks but is still kind of okay.
— Friar Johnsen