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Steel Mill - Green Eyed God CD (album) cover


Steel Mill

Heavy Prog

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
5 stars One of the most obscure release from England (the history of the band and whereabouts of the musicians are still unknown) and most-searched after vinyl by collectors, and one of the best beloved in ProgArchives for a famous unsolicited job application (see last paragraph of the present review). If in a lot of case, rare and expensive does not necessarily mean good or excellent, but in Steel Mill, such is the case. Released in 72 in Germany, this album got its UK release three years later, by which time the group had disbanded. This quintet is your standard quartet plus wind player and develop a heavy progressive so typical of the first years of the 70's and is a pure delight for the progheads searching for lost gems: I AM one of them. Sound-wise Steel Mill is a mix of Raw Material, some hard-riffing from Heep or Sabbath. All of the tracks are penned by wind player John Challenger and keysman and singer Dave Morris.

The heavy-riffed opener Blood Runs Deep is a rather fitting intro, as soon as the first break leads us to a sax/guitar crescendo and quick time changes. Summer Child is one of the highlights of this very even album, where no weaker track exists. Its deep and dark climate underlined by a low-timbre flute works wonder on your imagination. Hard riffs open the longer track of the first side of the wax slide, but its multipkle changes allows plenty of ambiances, some of them not far away from Black Sabbath and Atomic Rooster. The closer, Treadmill, is probably their hardest/heaviest track and the Sabbath influences are loud and clear in this song.

The second side opens on the superb 9-min title track with a haunting (and eastern-sounding) flute over a steady tom-drumming and psalm-like vocals, before the heavy guitar takes the song to a higher and harder climate. Clearly this song is the one that gives the album its weight in prog content, with its slight ethnic influences. Production-wise the album uses the fade-outs and the fade-ins a bit too systematically, but the only time this is slightly bothersome is in the middle of this great track. Turn The Page Over is yet another superb moments and it clearly invites in their next tale of paradise. Black Jewel Of The Forest is the apex of the album, with its slow flute and toms intro (already heard earlier in the album) before a tense guitar enters to modify the drumming and the ambiances switching gradually into a haunting, almost satanic mood: grandiose. The closing interlude is a fitting outro for an almost flawless album.

Steel Mill had also released two singles the following yea r, each time featuring a song from the album and a non-album B-side. Although the album tracks were edited to fit the singles format Repertoire record chose not too include these two songs as bonuses (which is just as well, since they are available in the better longer format), but they did choose to include the two non-album tracks, much to our joy. Obscurity. Obviously not recorded during the same sessions and mixed differently, the two tracks differ a bit from the rest of the album, without sticking out like a sore thumb. Get On The Line was a clear attempt at breaking the market with its basic repeated chorus and songs structures. The same can be said of Zang Will, but the second offers more to the proghead's ears because of more interplay and clear cut solos.

Be careful when looking for this album, as there are some bootlegs both in vinyl and in CD. In its digital form, this album comes with two bonus tracks coming from associated singles - which I have no idea if they are in the same line than the album per se. In any way, shape or form, this album is a real must if you love heavy prog. This album even prompted some Pakistani engineer to apply for a job in this website, and that fact alone makes it a classic album in our beloved Prog Archives;-)

Report this review (#31838)
Posted Wednesday, July 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Of unknown origin

Steel Mill are one of the most mysterious groups to have existed (or not!). The sleeve-notes of the CD re-release of their one and only album detail how the author tried in vain to track down some historical information about the band. All roads were however dead-ends, to the extent that even the British Musicians Union has no record of the any of the band members.

The band released two singles in 1971, followed by one album. "Green eyed god" in 1975. Quite why there was such a gap in between is not clear. Their debut single, also called "Green eyed god", now changes hands for princely sums. The version of that track included here is considerably longer than the single, but it would have been good to have the single edit as a bonus track. In this case, less really is more. The track "Green eyed god" is a superb mix of styles, starting with a gentle flute solo similar to some of Focus' early work. A brief vocal section is introduced over the flute, before all hell breaks loose as the track becomes a rocking guitar piece. The album version simply toys around with these themes more, the single version being more concise and hard hitting. (The producer of the album does recall that the flute parts for this track were recorded in the toilet to get the right effect!)

The other single released by Steel Mill is included here as a bonus track, having been inexplicably left off the original album. "Get on the line" is a more orthodox pop rock track, with a highly infectious chorus. Alan Freeman (enlightened UK DJ) rightly described the track at the time as having a "mighty sound",

The remainder of the album is in truth generally fairly average guitar and flute driven rock (but not particularly Jethro Tull like). "Summer's child" is a fine if naïve soft ballad, with some nice flute. "Mijo and the laying of the witch" has shades of Audience to it when John Challenger, the "wind instrumentalist" of the group, adds sax. Iron Butterfly's "In-a-gadda-da-vida" is another good reference point.

The album sounds somewhat dated and derivative now, but at the time, it was actually pretty original. If you get the opportunity, it is worth a listen, but I would not recommend paying the inflated prices of the collectors market (where the album is most likely to be found) just to hear the music.

Report this review (#31839)
Posted Monday, August 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hi there, this is a true melodic masterpiece. One of the top 5 best melodic british prog records i have ever hear. Especially the first side is so dynamic in terms of melody. I like very much the cover too. As i said before it is one of the top 5 with cressida, spring, england (garden shed) and beggar's opera. I think that especially in the penny fairthing (original) edition is superb. The sound is so clear and loud. One of the best. Apsolutely recommended.
Report this review (#31843)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Edited 09/26/05!

I don't remember exactly when I listened to this record the very first time, must be something like 25 years ago. But I remember well that I loved it very much right from the beginning. Now after all these years I rediscovered this real gem in progressive blues rock created by five brilliant musicians about whom there's actually nothing known apart of their names. The first song already is such a great amazing bluesrocker, swampy, bluesy and intricate at the same time. All the songs on this album are just awesome, much in the vein of CREAM or early BLACK SABBATH combined with great sax and flute play. On the CD release there are two bonus tracks which are very much worthwhile as well. I can just HIGHLY RECOMMEND this record to anyone who loves early progressive blues rock. An absolute unique album and excellent addition to any prog collection! (4,5 stars in real!)

Report this review (#31844)
Posted Thursday, March 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
4 stars The mystery that surrounds the band adds to the appeal of this album, I must admit. But even without the mystique, the music still manages to stand alone, and quite well I might add. I've never liked having art (rock) as a sub genre of music, as I've stated before. music is a sub caterogry of art! So I view this as more of a hardrock/fusion album. The fusion influences are not to heavy, there are some focus/tullesque flute and subtle sax here and there. If you can find this album and want to pay lotf of money and/or an arm or leg, by all means, its a good album. But it is insanely rare so I would suggest you d/l it. 4.25 stars.
Report this review (#31845)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I made the mistake of spending 250 US dollars on this album, and could hardly get that much in trade for it when after about a week this became less interesting and more and more irritating. It is hard to say exactly what doesn't work here. The playing by all five band members is inspired and professional, sometimes pedestrian and if you're lucky on a few tracks more imaginative. The problem is lack of imagination and too many plodding endless heavy riffs that sound like a very poor copy of Black Sabbath. The blues influence in the band's heavy progressive rock sound is combined with equal jazz overtones to make for as well as Sabbath a not even close Raw Material. One of the worst problems with this album is how the songs deal with such morbid and disturbing subject matter, namely almost every song here is about death and usually violent death. They sound sick, pretentious, and uninteresting after the initial impression they make in their extremely heavy rock sound wears off. If you want to hear this album then buy a CD or LP reissue. I would say if one person stands out as somebody who could have made the group better it is a fine guitar player who shows much promise. If one band member can be criticized for making this album not work it would be their horrible vocalist. His voice is weak, emotionless, totally pedestrian, and sounds like he has no idea what he is doing. His pseudo Ian Anderson bluesy voice is not strong enough to carry the material, so he opts for screaming fits. Some people really seem to enjoy this album and it isn't awful, just not outstanding. You're better off buying a Jethro Tull album or spending a lot of money on something with a bit more originality then what is demonstrated here.
Report this review (#45950)
Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I looked for this album for 2 years when finally I bought it and enjoyed it a lot. Take Jethro Tull, Black Widow and Cream, mingle them all and you will obtain Steel Mill. An obsure band, if you think that we don't know anything about them, the flute parts were recorded in the studios toilet! Apart from these particulars the album is great, I suggest 2 songs: the title track (very good), and Summers child. Quite hard to be found but it worths the difficulty.
Report this review (#92706)
Posted Saturday, September 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's an excellent heavy prog obscure band. Sounds only like themselves. A little like Raw material and skin alley Just got the new premastered album - Jewels of the forest 100% official reissue of Green eyed god + 9 bonus tracks - 2 B-sides + shorter version of Green eyes god + 5 unreleased staff that was found - its actually an early unreleased 5 songs that were recorded before green eyes, And the finale a new song recorded in 2010! a great new song All in all mesmerizing staff a lot of flute and sax and haunting voices. It's a rollercoaster from beginning to end. I love it!
Report this review (#456753)
Posted Saturday, June 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars While trawling through my local independent record store (yes, I'm sensitive enough about what people think of my music buying habits that I'll put that!), I heard some markedly ominous music emanating from the store's stereo. I thought it sounded vaguely Black Widow-esque, and feeling rather proud of myself I checked with the bloke at the desk that I'd got the right band. Obviously I hadn't, but to make up for my mild shame in mistaking the band I decided to pick up a copy of the album, recently re-released on the Rise Above level with a couple of extra tracks and some extensive liner notes. What I experienced as I put the CD on was quite extraordinary.....

The particuarly ominous track I heard on the store stereo turned out to be 'Black Jewel of The Forest', a brooding track with a nice flute/drum build up before a particuarly mean sounding riff continues a doomy theme throughout the song. Eventually the song descends into a heavy bluesy chaos which is executed very well. Generally this seems to be the bands forte, delving into doomy, sometimes quite heavy riffs with woodwind hints ranging from flutes to saxophones and solid vocal work.

The storming opener 'Blood Runs Deep' is one of the best examples of the heavier side of the band; with a fast Uriah Heep esque bluesy riff combined with some neat saxophone work (making them fairly unique in the world of heavy metal!) and some interesting breaks courtesy of lighter guitar and a saxophone solo. 'Summers Child' is a slightly more odd sounding number, however the pulsing bass rhythm and the duel flute/guitar work mean the song is pulled off pretty effectively.

The third track however is easily the best and most unique on the album, 'Mijo And The Laying Of The Witch' boasts some intriguing mixtures of vaguely Middle-Eastern sounding guitar work and gentle saxophone to start with followed by a multitude of heavier sections without getting repetitive. 'Treadmill' is also a very capable song, even if it's one of the less original on the album. However, the band proves that it can pull off a trudging, slow paced and heavy hitting metal song very well with this in addition to the more progressive stuff.

The title track and the following 'Turn The Page Over' are slightly weaker, but both capable efforts. The title track does seem slightly like a deliberate attempt to do 'an epic' which isn't pulled off completely even if there's many enjoyable moments, while 'Turn The Page Over' sounds like a slightly Atomic Rooster esque piano ballad but not to quite the same standard. As previously mentioned, the next track, 'Black Jewel Of The Forest' is very strong, while the finishing 'Har Fleur' is an odd, if strangely effective way to finish the album.

The bonus tracks are also a treat on this release, of particular note is the single 'Get On The Line' which is very catchy while still sounding interesting enough to be an obvious 'prog single.' In all then, this Rise Above re-release was a highly worthwhile purchase, chocking in cheaper than the vinyl rarity and with a nice dew bonus tracks to boot as well as some historically detailed liner notes.

Report this review (#567840)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Reminiscent of a collaboration between Vanilla Fudge, early Deep Purple, and Rare Bird, Steel Mill's sole album is a bluesy take on the heaviest of heavy psych and proto-prog. John Challenger's woodwind instruments add a wild card to the proceedings which sets the band apart from their influences, whilst guitarist Terry Williams lays down monster riffs which establish an oppressive and foreboding atmosphere for the proceedings. Recently rereleased with an impressive range of bonus tracks (under the confusing retitle of Jewels of the Forest), Green Eyed God represents the apocalyptic culmination of the bluesier side of heavy psych and proto-prog and doesn't deserve the obscurity it's languished in.
Report this review (#1052268)
Posted Thursday, October 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Cult British Prog/Psych outfit, formed in late-60's in the South London neighborhood of Wadsworth by keyboardist/singer Dave Morris and sax player John Challenger (formerly of The Garret Singers) with three more members coming from an act named Roadrunners, bassist Derek Chandler, guitarist Terry Williams and drummer Colin Short.After a few promising demos Short was replaced by Rumplestiltskin's Rupert Bear for a brief time, before Chris Martin was acquired permanently.A single followed in 1971 on the Penny Farthing label, which had an unexpected success, and Steel Mill entered the De Lane Lea Studios in London in December 71' to record their debut with a slightly different line-up, bassist Jeff Watts had replaced Derek Chandler.The team on Penny Farthing apparently was not very excited with the album, as a result Steel Mill's ''Green eyed God'' was oroginally released only in Germany in 1972.

Steel Mill sounded like a less progressive and risky GNIDROLOG and VAN DER GRAFF GENERATOR, having strong psychedelic and Jazz/Blues influences, but eventually offering an amalgam of sounds quite different from the typical bands of the time.With dark vocals and instrumental sections, they recalled also compatriots MARSUPILAMI, comfortably evolving from Heavy/Psychedelic Rock passages to jazzy twists with the sax in evidence and even delivering some great breaks and complex themes, especially in the longer tracks.Even if some of the ideas seem a bit forced or disjointed, the album is characterized by numerous great guitar moves and solid drumming, flavored by Challenger's diverse plays on sax and flutes, having evident Folk, Jazz and Blues vibes.The mood is angry, sinister and atmospheric akin to a more guitar-based VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR with an intelligent mix of 60's and proggy tunes, but even if Morris was among the band's leaders, his performance on keyboards is just very sterile and almost ''invisible''.Another aspect Steel Mill appear to have borrowed from Jazz are the obvious, loose executions in series of pieces, on the other hand the shorter ones come in a more standard Heavy/Blues Rock vein with Terry Williams being the absolute hero with his electrified guitar work.

A second single was issued the same year, but its dissapointing sales led Penny Farthing to abandon any plans on Steel Mill.Williams and Watts left the band and they were replaced by Alan Plaice and Danny Easterbrook respectively.However, despite some decent supporting performances next to Rory Gallagher's Taste, T. Rex, and David Bowie, Steel Mill finally disbanded in August 72'.From the band's members, Watts had the most respectable career playing for Psych/Jazz Rockers The Running Man, Hard Rock band Mouse and the Pop Rock combo Design.

Several reissues appear in the market, most of them with bonus material, and surprisingly Penny Farthing decided to reissue the original press in 1975 for the UK market.Among the good acts of the time, Steel Mill played cool Psych/Prog with a jazzy attitude and extended instrumental ideas.Recommended.

Report this review (#1178915)
Posted Saturday, May 24, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Reading some rather positive reviews of this album left me somewhat puzzled. I am old enough and with a healthy interest in music, yet I could not recall having heard of this band. I left no stone unturned till I was able to hear this piece. Hmmm, maybe not for the first time after all, but perhaps it just didn't resonate with me back then - and still doesn't.

There is no doubt that this is well-intended work, albeit rather amateurish, perhaps even naive by what sounds like a bunch of hippies. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not about to mock hippies here as I consider myself as a die-hard specimen of those. But this release leaves me rather underwhelmed. The music is mediocre - if at all - lacking any grunt and would suit a small-town Country Fair more than a record contract. Considering that 1972 saw the release of fantastic works, in comparison, this just doesn't stack up and should have remained in the vaults.

Barely scraping in at 3 and that with a healthy dose of goodwill.

Report this review (#1180525)
Posted Thursday, May 29, 2014 | Review Permalink

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