Iron Fire – To The Grave (2009, Napalm Records)
- The Beast From The Blackness
- Kill For Metal
- The Demon Master
- Cover The Sun
- To The Grave
- March Of The Immortals
- The Kingdom
- Frozen In Time
- Hail To Odin
- Doom Riders
- Ghost Of Vengeance
- The Battlefield
- Blacksmith Of Thunder (limited edition bonus track)
Martin Steene – Vocals
Kirk Backarach – Guitars
Martin Lund – Bass
Fritz Wagner – Drums
Danny Svendsen – Keyboards
Produced by: Iron Fire & Tommy Hansen
Total Time = 59:57
Iron Fire have been flying the flags of Power Metal for a decade now and not much has changed since THUNDERSTORM (2000) started things off. Iron Fire still plays Power Metal in it’s truest form: speed mixed with Melodic Metal, fantasy themed lyrics, fantasy album artwork and the true love of all things Metal. If I had to draw comparisons then Hammerfall would immeadiately come to mind, as would Manowar, Primal Fear, Mob Rules and Nocturnal Rites…..Iron Fire is part of the Power Metal resurgence of the last 15 years but are they progressing? The first thing you’ll notice when you put on TO THE GRAVE is that the band hasn’t really changed much in 10 years. It’s as if they have made the same album five times! Is that a bad thing? Ask a Power Metal fan and the answer will be “No” because Iron Fire still does what they do best: play well and construct good songs. The lyrics may seem a bit juvenile at times but you have to buy into the fantasy theme to really understand it.
Every song on TO THE GRAVE has a lot of power to it, there just isn’t excessive speed riffs and double bass drumming, there is a wall of sound. The band has focused on trying to present a heavier feel to their music within the genre’s framework. Every song is melodic with plenty of speed and layered guitars, even the keyboards fit in well and don’t overpower the other instruments. Lead vocalist Martin Steene sounds like he has strengthened his voice and expanded his range a bit as he explores his mid-level and doesn’t always go for the highs.
The album begins with ‘The Beast From The Blackness’ that starts with a keyboard-laden intro and burns intro full on speed riffs and machine gun drums but what pulls it all together is the vocals from Steene and the harmonies on the chorus. ‘Kill For Metal’ is a Manowar style anthem if I’ve ever heard one and it’s also one of the best songs on the album…..it follows the same path as ‘The Beast’ with it’s speedy riffs and big gang choruses but that main riff sounds really thick. There’s a slower pace to ‘The Demon Master’, along with some growling vocals supplementing Steene’s lead, and it breaks things up a little. The change of pace also goes for ‘Cover The Sun’ with it’s more prominent keyboards and slower groove, it lets you feel the power this band has.
The title track kicks in like a good Primal Fear track with a solid main riff and rhythm section while the vocals are restrained for more impact. ‘March Of The Immortals’ is your typical cliched Power Metal track but with Steene sounding like Vince Neil from Motley Crue in some spots! I don’t dig the whiny singing and Vince can get on your nerves so I’d rather hear Steene keep to what he’s been doing. ‘The Kingdom’ is fast and seems a little out of control in the beginning but it speeds right into the bridge and chorus where things settle into a controlled, but fast, pace. The growling vocals return again to add to the chorus but there really isn’t anything groundbreaking here. ‘Frozen In Time’ is a pretty good song as Iron Fire find a slower (but not slow!) groove and really pound away with a heavy backline and those growling vocals to offset the higher singing. The song, especially the chorus, reminds me a lot of Kamelot.
One thing you need to have when making a Power Metal album in 2009 is to have a song dedicated to the Norse god Odin, it’s like a prerequisite to join the Power Metal fraternity of something! ‘Hail To Odin’ is gets Iron Fire their admission to the club but I hit the skip button right away…..the song is just too much with it’s bad lyrics and simple structure. the only redeeming quality I like is when the band slows everything down mid-song and the music sounds almost haunting but that’s only about 30 seconds and it’s back to the hailing! The vocals on ‘Doom Riders’ sound like they can’t keep up with the guitar’s speed and it just seems like a something is out of sync for me right away but ‘Ghost Of Vengeance’ comes in and rescues things from getting to out of hand with it’s heavy riffs and controlled drumming. The last song of the proper album is ‘The Battlefield’, a song that sounds like all the others but with that Vince Neil whine on the lead vocal, but there is a bonus track for the limited digipak version called ‘Blacksmith Of Thunder’. Great title right? Don’t let it fool you because this song really kicks into high gear and has a lot of heaviness, one of the best songs on the album! Why do bands offer a bonus track that’s better than half the songs on the proper album?
The words “Power Metal” should tell you all you need to know about Iron Fire and this new album TO THE GRAVE. If you are a Power/True Metal purist, then you are going to love this album. If you like different styles of Metal that are heavier or more brutal then this might not be the record for you. I’m a big Power Metal fan but I like a little progression, a little growth, with the sound as the years go by. Kamelot has done it, Primal Fear did it with NEW RELIGION back in 2007, and even Hammerfall has mixed up their sound. This is what Iron Fire need to do, they need to take some chances, explore some new avenues and incorporate it all into the Power Metal framework. Overall this wasn’t a bad album, it got a little repetitive at times but there is still some solid music here.
‘Kill For Metal’, ‘To The Grave’, ‘Frozen In Time’, ‘Blacksmith Of Thunder’, ‘The Demon Master’, ‘Cover The Sun’