Due out this Friday, September 16th from Demark’s premier Power Metal outfit Iron Fire is their release of Among the Dead. After sixteen years and seven albums, the authors of Power Metal’s cult classic Thunderstorm, On the Edge in 2001, Speed Metal inspired Revenge in 2006, Blade of Triuph (2007), To the Grave in 2009, Metalmorphosized (2010) and Voyage of the Damned in 2012 still have the hunger they had back at the turn of the millennium until today. After a number of line-up and sound changes over the years, original founding members Martin Steene on vocals and bass and Kirk Backarach on guitars are joined again by their original drummer Gunnar Olsen who rejoined the band back in 2015 after a fifteen year hiatus and are going back to their roots. The resulting CD is exceptionally good Power Metal that will be felt everywhere when this beast drops!
As expected from a band that has been around for so long, everything about Among the Dead is tight in its songwriting, playing and production. While Iron Fire has undeniably matured, they have stuck to has worked so well for them through the nineties and twenty-tens: melodic Power driven by some of the strongest rhythms around, soaring, musical guitars and raspy, Viking Power Metal style vocals that defined early Power Metal, where they are so firmly rooted. Dedicating the new album to the sounds developed by Black in Mind (Rage), The Dark Saga by Iced Earth and Helloween’s classic The Raw, Iron Fire has a guaranteed winner for those of us preferring the timber and melodic feel of traditional Power Metal. With that in mind and pulling back just short of Thrash much of the time, Kirk again proves that he can still play among the best. Blisteringly fast chord changes intermingled with heavy leads, bridges and shred-worthy solos, bringing an intensity not common from a trio. This is where drums and bass are used to project the music forward and broaden the spectrum normally left to a second guitarist. Never overplaying his position in Iron Fire, Gunner definitely has the chops to add the driving force from which to propel the music forward without overpowering the overall sound. Very balanced musicians that play very comfortably together to be sure. The icing on the cake comes from Martin’s distinctive, raspy vocals semi-cleanly singing voice; subject matter running the gambit from the Zombie Apocolypse in the intro (“The Lost City”) and “Among the Dead” to the last vestiges of humanity in “Hammer of the Gods” (my personal favorite), “Iron Eagle” and “Higher Ground”. Other themes contrast this and are much darker like “Tornado of Sickness” and “No Sign of Life”. Not willing to stay cleanly in common genre boundary lines, “Ghost from the Past” has a cool, retro-Hard Rock vibe while “When the Lights Go Out” has a heavy, Power Ballad anthem feel that is not often heard since the late eighties. Where they willingly cross into Thrash is their bad-ass, bonus-track of Metallic’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. True to the original with the Midas Touch addition of the Iron Fire feel and interpretation. As good as the music of Iron Fire is, it would be a travesty to lose everything to bad production. Thankfully, this is not the case as Among the Dead was recorded at Dead Island Studio in Denmark by Marco Angioni and mastered in Hertz Studios by Wojteck & Slawek who all did a spectacular job of spotlighting the overwhelming talent offered by the three members of Iron Fire without losing their trademark feel through modern technology.
Iron Fire has produced a relevant and powerful album with Among the Dead that will appeal to long time fans as well as folks looking backward to learn from war scarred veterans for new and inspirational music to fascinate them. Admittedly jaded because this is among my favorite types of Metal, I think Iron Fire has a hit here and hope that fans will continue to support really good music like theirs to keep this stellar sound thriving well into the future. In this case, we will do well to learn from our past so we can see clearly into the future! Definitely a “thumbs up” from me.
“Intro (The Lost City)(Only CD/Casette feat.)”
“Among the Dead”
“Hammer of the Gods”
“Tornado of Sickness”
“Made to Suffer”
“The Last Survivor”
“No Sign of Life”
“Ghost from the Past”
“When the Lights Go Out”
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” (Bonus track, only CD/Cassette feat.)