Iron Fire – To The Grave (2009)

Iron Fire - To The Grave (2009)

Iron Fire – To The Grave (2009, Napalm Records)

  1. The Beast From The Blackness
  2. Kill For Metal
  3. The Demon Master
  4. Cover The Sun
  5. To The Grave
  6. March Of The Immortals
  7. The Kingdom
  8. Frozen In Time
  9. Hail To Odin
  10. Doom Riders
  11. Ghost Of Vengeance
  12. The Battlefield
  13. Blacksmith Of Thunder (limited edition bonus track)

Band Lineup:
Martin Steene – Vocals
Kirk Backarach – Guitars
Martin Lund – Bass
Fritz Wagner – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Danny Svendsen – Keyboards

Produced by: Iron Fire & Tommy Hansen

Country: Denmark

Total Time = 59:57

Iron Fire
Iron Fire MySpace page
Napalm Records

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?

Bottom Line:
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.

Favorite Songs:
‘Kill For Metal’, ‘To The Grave’, ‘Frozen In Time’, ‘Blacksmith Of Thunder’, ‘The Demon Master’, ‘Cover The Sun’

Now Playing — Vacation edition

Vacation, vacation, vacation!

It feels so good to walk out of work, especially after a hard holiday week, and know you don’t have to go back on the job for a full week. I started my week off today with some Metal music to relax the mind and body while I enjoyed some really great weather here in Rhode Island.

Michael Schenker – Thank You (1993): I started the first day of vacation as soon as I got home from work at 1am this morning with a little acoustic Michael Schenker. Nothing relaxes me more than grabbing a cold iced tea, sitting in front of the stereo, turning the lights down and listening to one of the greatest Rock guitarists do his thing. THANK YOU used to help my youngest daughter take her nap when she was a baby and it helped me get relaxed enough to go to bed BEFORE 3am and get a great sleep.

Primal Fear – 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead) (2009): I started the actual day with the dog and a 2.5 mile walk with the soundtrack being the new Primal Fear album. I really liked their last album so this new one has a lot to live up to according to my ears. This was the 3rd time I’ve played 16.6 and I’ll need a few more spins before I pass judgement but I’ll say this: Primal Fear rarely disappoints me.

Starz – s/t (1976): I’ve had this thing for Starz for the past couple of days because I heard ‘Detroit Girls’ on a local classic rock station and they NEVER play Starz. I prefer the band’s second record, VIOLATION, but the debut is just as solid. This CD is the Ryko reissue from 2005 with 4 demos tacked on as bonus tracks.

Iron Fire – To The Grave (2009): This is the album that just will not die! I bought this album back when it came out earlier in the year and I have kept it in a weekly rotation every since. Iron Fire are Power Metal so it’s a genre I really like but it’s Iron Fire…..there are other bands releasing albums and I haven’t given this the proper time. I keep putting it on then forgetting about it for another new album so I decided that I would lie back with the headphones and give this a critical listen.

U.D.O. – Infected E.P. (2009): Just got this in the mail last week so I tore off the cellophane and gave this a spin…..a nice teaser for the upcoming album.

U.D.O. – Mastercutor (2007): You can never have enough U.D.O. or Accept so I pulled out MASTERCUTOR and now I am seriously pumped for DOMINATOR (2009) in August…..this time I’m going to buy the album right away instead of waiting to buy it like I did with this one.

Savannah – s/t (1998): So I decided to listen to Savannah’s debut because it was at the top of the pile on my desk and because I was so pleased that I got a great deal on a Japanese copy and cleared something off the WANTED list. So I finish with the CD and I go to put it in the CD case and what do I see? A U.S. version of the album! Now I have no idea when I got the U.S. pressing, I checked all of the CD Scavenger Hunts since January and I started to check Paypal to see when this mix up occurred…..nothing. So I have both versions now…..I really need to finish my list.

Michael Schenker – Thank You 4 (2003): I decided to end my day the same way I started it with some acoustic Michael Schenker. THANK YOU 4 is another album that helped my youngest daughter take her naps when she was a baby and it worked on me too. As I type this, I’m getting sleepy and the album is drawing to a close…..good night!

CD Scavenger Hunt – Catching up already in 2009!

Here we go….. we are only one month into 2009 and I have been picking up some good CDs every week online, in stores and from Ebay. So here’s what I’ve bought so far this year…..

Record Store

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009) – $11.88: I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of the album back in December but I had to go out and buy the proper CD because Saxon is one of my favorite bands. Unfortunately the local shop only had the regular version and not the limited edition with the bonus DVD. I’ll get that one eventually…..

Grand Magus – Iron Will (2008) – $15: I saw this album on a ton of year end best of lists so I put it on my want list. I hit the record store to get the new saxon and I found this CD in the section reserved for picks from the staff.

Grave Digger – Ballads Of A Hangman (2009) – $11.88: I had to get this album after I was shut out from picking up the PRAY E.P. that was released two weeks earlier. I’ve been a Grave Digger fan since around ’85 and I always like their new albums. The version I bought was the limited edition digipak that includes a bonus cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Jailbreak’.

Iron Fire – To The Grave (2009) – $11.88: The new Iron Fire was released the same day as the new Grave Digger (both bands are on Napalm Records) and the were both on sale for $11.88. Just like BALLADS OF A HANGMAN, TO THE GRAVE came in a limited edition digipak with a bonus track…..’Blacksmith Of Thunder’.

Alestorm – Leviathan E.P. (2009) – $7: I have wanted to check out Alestorm for a long time but I never got around to buying CAPTAIN MORGAN’S Revenge (2008) last year. I figured spending 7 bucks on the E.P. would be a good introduction.

Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctus (2009) – $10: Tobias Sammet is a very busy guy with new albums from Avantasia and Edguy in one year. Technically, this record was released in December 2008 everywhere but North America and there is a limited edition 2CD set that includes a live show and videos. Unfortunately the record shop only had the regular edition but you can’t beat a $10 sale price!

Twisted Sister – Under the Blade (1982/1999 reissue) – $10: I thought I had this in my collection already but I was wrong. My 10 yr. old daughter, who is obsessed with Twisted Sister, pointed out the missing album to me a couple of weeks ago so that put UNDER THE BLADE at the top of the want list. Talk about pressure…..my kid wouldn’t stop talking about it and how I needed to buy it. I was looking through a markdown/sale bin just before checking out and I found it. I went home and loaded it into my daughter’s iPod before she got home from school.

Ebay/Online

Eden’s Curse – Seven Deadly Sins E.P. (2008) and The Second Coming (2008) – $20: I have wanted to give Eden’s Curse a try ever since Melodicrock.com listed the band’s self-titled debut in their Top 5 albums of 2007. The same website is offering special deals for visitors through an Artist Of The Week feature so I was able to get both albums for $20, a great deal! Now I need to pick up that first album!

Bittersweet – Loaded Up (1988-1992) – $13: One night last week I was searching local bands from Rhode Island (my home state) and stumbled upon Bittersweet. Taking a closer look, I noticed they were signed to Retrospect Records and an official CD of 20 songs from ’88-’92 was released recently. I checked out their MySpace page to hear samples and everything sounded really good so I went to the Retrospect website and Ebay and I won the album for $10 ($3 shipping)…..I saved $5 off the CD price by purchasing on Ebay and the seller is really the guy that runs Retrospect Records. I can’t wait to hear this album.

Loudness – Metal Mad (2008) – $18.55: I featured this album in my WANTED! column back in September 2008 and I have been on the lookout for this album for a full year. METAL MAD was released in Japan back in late February 2008 and it never got a distribution deal for North America, prices were around $35 average (shipping included) to get an import copy from Japan. Starting price on this one was $5 and I put in a high bid of $20. The seller is located in New Jersey, about an 8 hour drive from Rhode Island, so the mail should only take a few days. I won the CD for $15.55 and the shipping was $3…..a steal!