To The Grave
2/20/2009 - Review by: Eric Compton
Just when you thought Overkill or Iced Earth had the biggest revolving door of in and out again musicians, in steps Iron Fire to take their share of metal's largest turnover. Vocalist Martin Steene (also see him with Mercyful Fate members as Force Of Evil) has been abandoned over and over again since the band's debut album in 2000. Since then Iron Fire has released five albums total, each of them with a variety of not-so-in-the-band musicians that have toured, recorded, and modeled band shots for those nice little glossy booklets. The group's most solid state would come in 2006 when the same set of musicians recorded "Revenge" and then stayed intact to release "Blade Of Triumph" in 2007. Now 2009 has arrived and Steene has some new faces backing his power metal voice. Steene adds new drummer Fritz Wagner and new-now-lone guitarist Kirk Backarach. Bassist Martin Lund stays put, now the longest running Iron Fire member other than Steene to be involved longer than 2 years (his run now 4 years). Yes, even Jon Schaffer would be scratching his head.
With all of the negativity with band turnover, I must say that the newest Iron Fire release, "To The Grave", IS BY FAR the band's best work to date. This riveting metalasterpiece is all consuming in its ability to weave classic heavy metal (Heavy Load, Oz) with today's more modern power metal fabrics. The 2009 version of Iron Fire is more in line with what you will find on a Dream Evil or Paragon release while still keeping an identity that is fresh in its delivery. The production job is stellar thanks to famed brainframe Tommy Hansen, who has had hands on countless classics including Helloween.
Blazing anthems like "Kill For Metal" and "Cover The Sun" are true mile markers for this band. This is the kind of stuff that has been stepped over on previous works. Check out the obligatory viking sing along "Hail To Odin". Steene just sounds amazing and I really enjoy his up-and-down tones that use deeper spoken growls with his polished high register. This technique brings to mind Michael Seifert's performance with his band Rebellion. New drummer Wagner really puts some footwork into these beats and Backarach is quite an accomplished six-stringer.
"To The Grave" is absolutely the best album of 2009 thus far and a solid "comeback" for the band. I am glad Napalm Records gave Steene and his clan another album shot as this one is quite pleasing. Let's see Iron Fire on the road in the US soon!! Maximum Metal demands it.
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