AUGUST 12th 2013

Review by Anka

I know Iron Kingdom: a bunch of young guys that put on energetic, flashy shows and look like they have just stepped out of a time machine to deliver a message from the 80s. No kiddin’ if you see these guys live, you’ll have a great time and for those of you who are too young to have ever known how it felt “back then” well here you have it, Iron Kingdom’s gonna get you (pun intended).

Their new album “Gates of Eternity “ is in line with their previous release and it goes to show these guys just won’t stop.  A good, healthy dose of old-school power-heavy metal - yes this band is somewhat stuck in the aforementioned decade. Now it depends how you’re looking at it: is it bad, because we are in 2013 and metal has evolved farther than that, or is it good that a young band actually plays such stuff nowadays when only the “dinosaurs” of the genre release albums that sound nothing like they did before, and then do pompous sold-out tours. Personally I’d stick to the latter, it’s actually good- call me a nostalgic but knowing a young band just started playing the old-school stuff is refreshing, and besides, a little diversity in the scene didn’t hurt anyone. I am saying this as I have just seen amazing bands like Striker, Cauldron and Holy Grail tour this year and it sounded like this kind of music will be around forever, thanks to these talented guys.  

Back to “Gates of Eternity”, it has an oscillating pace throughout, as most of the songs incorporate slower, old-school sounding riffs blended with fast parts, specific to the story-telling kind of songs you might have heard back in the day. I must admit that, knowing the guys, I was expecting an even faster pace consistently, not that I am disappointed, but I think the long wailing notes, the lengthy solos and the slower moments generally stall the songs, in any case they don't bring much, they lost me a few times and I do believe that only a few bands can brilliantly manage such song moments. But to be fair, compared to the previous album, this one is more diverse and more energetic.  

There’s quite a lot happening in Iron Kingdom’s music, from NWOBHM influences to European power metal, speed and rock. There are certain modern twists but they don’t weigh much in the overall sound. Then on top of that, you get the high-pitched screams of the tireless vocalist Chris Osterman. There are guitar leads as melodic as can be, fast riffing, power harmonies and pounding drums, sufficient to sustain the melodic madness. “Candeloro” is a slow instrumental piece with piano, violin and a bit of guitar that develops beautifully towards a grand ending. Another song that stands out is the epic “Egypt – The End is Near” which has really great song-writing, lots of different elements, and I think this is where Iron Kingdom’s talent is absolutely obvious.

Songs to remember: At Home in the Dark, Guardian Angel, Candeloro, Egypt – The End is Near

Iron Kingdom is a novice band with a legendary sound and they pull it off. Of course, there is still a long road ahead of them, things need some polishing, but it’s more important that they are on the right one and they do what they love most. On a realistic note, this genre with old-school flavors doesn’t get a huge following nowadays unless the band’s name is as “old” as the sound. It’s up to the band to keep the interest alive and make it appealing, with or without a fresh approach.