Tony Lionetti: bass & lead vocals
Jami Blackwood: guitars
Nino Trovato: drums
Matthias Steele has something that not too many bands have…a long and storied past. Back in early 1985, bassist and vocalist Tony Lionetti, drummer Nino Trovato and original guitarist Todd Gencarella were high school friends in their hometown of Westerly, RI (USA). The trio spent close to 4 years playing together throughout Rhode Island and Connecticut, eventually releasing their self-titled debut Matthias Steele in 1987 to very positive reviews. Drawing influence from thrash and epic power metal, the NWOBHM, and bands like Cloven Hoof and Tyrant, Matthias Steele put little Rhode Island on the map of US heavy metal. Sadly the summer of 1988 saw Trovato and Gencarella leave Matthias Steele to pursue other interests, leaving Lionetti wanting to carry on.
Lionetti recruited guitarist John Erkan and drummer Jay Jordan; the band continued to perform and soon recorded the very well-received album Haunting Tales of a Warriors Past in 1992. The album did exceptionally well locally in Rhode Island upon its release, and throughout the world in recent years. Described by one reviewer as “one of the finest power/thrash albums of all time,” Haunting Tales of a Warriors Past solidified Matthias Steele’s place in the history of US power metal. Lionetti’s skill, charisma, and versatility on this album are worthy of note. From his King-Diamond-esque falsetto to his harsher, raspier mid-range, his style and sound put him solidly in an elite class of power metal singers. A review on the Encyclopedia Metallum sums it up:
“All of the songs on the album are excellent, and each possesses its own complex character. Just listen to the shifting moods of Return…with a Vengeance or the strutting riffs and gallows humor tinged with mock regret in To the Guillotine. There are no stupid covers, no attempt at a radio single, and no stupid gimmicky experimentation; nothing to mar the greatness of the songwriting, and no weak tracks…it’s indisputably a masterpiece in the style.”
Soon after the release of Haunting Tales, Matthias Steele went through more lineup changes. Jordan left, and was replaced by drummer Ronnie Allen. Guitarist Brett Arruda came in for a short stint with the band as well. By 1994 the band had fizzled somewhat until Trovato and Gencarella returned to reform the original lineup once again for the next two years. Gencarella left in 1996 and guitarist Jami Blackwood came into the band bringing a much need breathe of fresh air. His style of songwriting countered Lionetti’s, making the band a little more diverse.
For the past 19 years this lineup has been the most consistent version of the band. In 2007 Matthias Steele released Resurrection. Still heavy, still powerful, and still dripping with their early influences, Resurrection defines the unique Matthias Steele “sound”. After 20 years, Lionetti’s vocals are still as powerful as ever, Trovato’s drumming crushingly heavy, and Blackwood’s guitar work crunching and tight. In 2010 the band celebrated its 25th year. Now in their 30th year, the boys from Matthias Steele are proud to release Question of Divinity.
Question of Divinity is Matthias Steele’s follow up to 2007’s Resurrection and their fourth release to date. The recordings for this album began in earnest in 2009 and continued on into 2010 at Redbone Recording in their hometown of Westerly, RI. Shawn Allen once again engineered and co-produced the material with the band as he did on Resurrection. The music on this latest collection is raw and heavy, characterized by Matthias Steele’s precision timing. The opening track, Question of Divinity (Lionetti) is unmistakable Matthias Steele–crunchy guitar rhythm, driving bass and drums and Lionetti’s signature falsetto squeals. The band is particularly proud of the Jami Blackwood-penned Freedom which is in honor of those who serve and protect their country’s freedom. In their 30 year history the one thing that has remained constant in this band is Lionetti’s distinct vocal style, and he doesn’t disappoint on this album. Two bonus tracks have been included here. Supersonic Man is a live track taken from the band’s 25th anniversary show in their hometown of Westerly in 2010. A song that dates back to 1986 with the original lineup of the band that included Trovato and Lionetti. The second song is an unreleased Jami Blackwood song called Worthless Soul, also taken from the 25th anniversary show. The song is a teaser as it will be properly recorded for the follow up to Question of Divinity.
The band had split again in 2012 for a 3 year hiatus, reforming in July of 2015. Conversations soon began with Minotauro Records to release these tracks as Question of Divinity, and to re-release Haunting Tales of a Warrior’s Past and Resurrection. Both re-releases contain bonus material from the very rare Matthias Steele album from 1987