Meister's Metal Mayhem

Ron Keel is back, blending his country and metal influences together for his latest release, entitled Metal Cowboy. While Ron first came to our attention in the band Steeler (which produced one self-titled album in 1983 and also housed Yngwie Malmsteen for a short time), it is his days with the band Keel for which he is most known. After the demise of Steeler, Ron formed Keel and found success in the 80s issuing Lay Down the Law in 1984.  KISS emprasario Gene Simmons produced Keel’s next two releases, The Right to Rock in 1985 and The Final Frontier in Rock Rag #21-Keel-Metal Cowboy1986. Michael Wagener took over for the self-titled Keel in 1987. Guitarists Marc Ferrari and Brian Jay departed before 1989’s Larger than Live, after which Keel disbanded. Reuniting the band nearly 10 years later, in 1998, produced Keel VI: Back in Action. Another reformation a dozen years after that, in 2010, resulted in Streets of Rock & Roll.

In the interim of all these albums, Ron Keel lent his vocal talents to several projects including Japanese band Saber Tiger’s major label debut, Project One, in 1997.  While not performing with Keel, Ron also explored his interest in country music, adopting the moniker “Ronnie Lee Keel” in some circles. He formed the country-rock outfit Iron Horse and put forth two efforts there with Iron Horse in 2001 and Bring It On in 2004.  Ron Keel appears in the Country Superstars Vegas show that he also created, portraying Ronnie Dunn of country group Brooks & Dunn. He is also a counselor at the Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. His radio show, The Streets of Rock & Roll, can be heard on over 35 stations.

As Ron Keel says on his website, the new album is “metal with a cowboy attitude.”Rock Rag #21-Keel-Metal Cowboy (2)

Metal Cowboy leads off with “Long Gone Bad.” It’s easy to hear both metal and country influences throughout the song, which I would say are successfully melded.  If you are one who is totally opposed to country music, I would avoid this release most definitely. The first single, “Wild Forver” is on deck next and does have a bit of a radio hit flavour to it.  Available now “Wild Forever”

Throughout Metal Cowboy, Ron Keel shows his talent for writing catchy melodies, metal or otherwise, and some of the better tracks include “My Bad,” “The Last Ride” and the revamping of Keel’s “Evil, Wicked, Mean & Nasty,” which originally appeared on Larger than Live.  “What Would Skynyrd Do,” “Just Like Tennessee” and “The Cowboy Road” are a little more twangy and country-flavoured, but after a few listens I found myself singing along with the chorus—not something I ever expected to do with a country song!  The final cut is “Three Chord Drinkin’ Song,” just a fun song in general, and I can see it getting airtime around the firepit as we consume some mass quantities of adult beverages.  All in all, Ron Keel has issued a fresh-sounding album that fans of metal or country should both be able to get behind with ease.

You can order a copy of Metal Cowboy and also pick up Ron’s autobiography, Even Keel, on his website.


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