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Q5 - Steel The Light

By: Eric Compton
Published: Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Steel The Light was the debut record from Seattle's Q5. Released in the late summer of 1984, Q5 brought the popular sounds of "New Wave Of British Heavy Metal" to the northwest coast of America. With members of another Seattle legend, TKO, Evan Sheley, Floyd Rose, Jonathan K., Rick Pierce, and Gary Thompson set out to record the Steel The Light 7-track demo at the end of 1983.
Q5 - Steel the Light
Albatross Productions found out about the superb quality of songwriting and twin guitar melody of the demo, and sent the band into the studio to record the full length LP we know as Steel The Light. The record was released on Albatross with different packaging, showing a sort of "sci-fi" feel to the record, highlighting the cover in a disgusting green color. Music For Nations picked the band up for the European release, giving it a much more attractive "Space Ship" cover.

The reviews in 1985 were tremendous. Every rock and metal magazine in the world loved the record and gave it positive reviews. For whatever reason those rants didn't help sales at all, with the US release basically being ignored by everyone at radio and corporate levels. The highlight of the band's career were playing with Lita Ford, and doing a show in Seattle with Twisted Sister and Y & T. Definitely not the rewards this band deserved.

Its a damn shame that this record and band isn't a household name. Poor record sales and a decline of popularity even in their own state made the band decide to do a more "commercial" followup entitled "When The Mirror Cracks". This album was just wretched and the band never recovered from it.

Floyd Rose went on to future success with the invention of the tremolo system. Q5 disbanded and that was the end of the Q5 story. But with that short lived success, the band managed to release one of the finest pieces of hard rock metal ever. Forget Def Leppard, forget Iron Maiden, forget Judas Priest. For one moment, open up your mind and take into effect what Q5 offered on their first record.

The album starts with a polished, crisp, refreshing sound, with bombastic drumming and heavy twin guitar riffing, taking the great sounds of Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden and mixing in the great hard rock vibes of Van Halen and Boston. The result is nothing short of brilliant.

The first song, "Missing In Action" just stimulates every muscle, making the listener sit up and take notice of the new kid on the block. High pitched clean vocals and one uncompromised guitar sound dominates the early part of the entire record. "Missing In Action" focuses on drug abuse while disguising the message within an 80s action film theme. Original and focused, keeping the listener hooked until the drug abuse message is unveiled. Great song and great writing!

Another great example of the chemistry this band had was track two, "Lonely Lady", sounding like a better version of Def Leppard, while delivering a somber message about losing innocence without falling in love. This is what Q5 was all about, delivering the goods while dropping off a twisted social message within the context.

Songs like "Teenage Runaway" and "No Way To Treat A Lady" are much in the same style, creating atmosphere while pummeling the listener with twin guitar melody only Iron Maiden could pull off at the time.

Don't get me wrong, there are some classic power metal moments in songs like the title track, a heavy dose of dungeons and dragons that only Savatage could have pulled off this well this early. This was 1984, with a majority of these songs recorded in 1983.

Q5 were simply masterminds with this record, a release that should really have been taken seriously by radio execs worldwide. Again I stress its a damn shame this album didn't get out of the clearance bin.

You can still pick up copies of this in flea markets across the country. If you are into re-issues, Old Metal Records released this in the late 90s, and the album was completely remastered with demo bonus cuts by High Vaultage in 2000. That re-issue also includes some interesting interviews in the booklet and various reviews from zines during that time frame.

Knock off some dust from your copy of Steel The Light, or go out right now and hunt down a copy. This really shouldn't be rusted metal. Polish it up a bit and it will still contend with everything on the radio and television today.

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