I loved IRON FIRE’s debut “Thunderstorm”, was ok with “On Fire”, “Revenge” was a return to form, while “Blade Of Triumph” never managed to connect with me, so if I go with this kind of pattern, their fifth effort “To The Grave” should be to my liking again. Yes, it is odd how sometimes things work out like this and I am very happy to announce that “To The Grave” is probably their best effort since “Thunderstorm”, which brings me to the conclusion that I should probably be afraid of number six...
Anyways, IRON FIRE never were one for big originality and groundbreaking new developments and “To The Grave” is no difference here, they still stand firmly planted between Heavy and Power Metal and they in fact do have one element that is characteristic for them, which is fronter Martin Steene’s vocals, which give them some character of their own. Lyrically they also won’t win any prizes for enormous depth, but the lyrics definitely match the music, so no complaints here, even though some naysayers will see the song titles and block right from the start.
“The Beast From The Blackness” kicks things off with power and energy, a dynamic double-bass cracker with some keyboards, great start for the album, because it draws you right in and gets your head moving right away, setting the pace for the other 50 minutes of the album, as they sound the freshest since the late 90s, so it’s been a while and it is good to see that they managed to rally up a lot of drive and catchy hymns to unleash at the Metal warriors out there. “Kill For Metal” is pure cliché in the title, but has this irresistible melody and rhythm that you can’t withstand and with “The Battlefield” the Danes have produced one of my favourite tracks by the band, atmospheric, intense and with a chorus that you’ll have to surgically remove from your brain after, that’s the way we like it! Not all tracks hit home, though, “Frozen In Time” leaves me pretty cold, but thankfully that is the exception of the rule, as the rest mostly falls into the positive category.
Several bands come to mind when listening to “To The Grave”, many of them from the German battlegrounds, but this is one thing in the Power Metal genre, it is very hard these days to really stand apart and that makes it even more important to have songs that sound fresh, gripping and dynamic, which are three things that IRON FIRE can check off their list, making them so recommendable for genre-fans. The band definitely has found its style and blows many other bands out of the water that you could compare them to, I’ve read a few comparisons with MANOWAR, for example, and it’s been a long time since Joey DiMaio and consorts have sounded this good.
So to sum things up, “To The Grave” is IRON FIRE’s strongest effort since their debut, with strong, dynamic and catchy Metal hymns that should please any genre fan and have your fists in the air in no time. Recommended!
(Online April 2, 2009)