Iron Kingdom hails from the Western shores of Canada, and is a relatively new heavy/power metal group. “Ride For Glory” marks their third album in just 5 years, and is a serious offering of intense riffage and majesty. Though the core influence of all bands in this style appears to be Iron Maiden (and Iron Kingdom is no exception), it would be more accurate to say that the band’s sound derives from USPM groups like Omen or Manilla Road. The music is always charging and rumbling as the band unleashes a large number of furious riffs. Everything about this release screams classic, and there isn’t a shed of influence from anything post-1985 on this album.
The distinctive element of Iron Kingdom’s approach is their vocalist. He sounds like a more metal version of Geddy Lee (Rush). Most of the notes he hits are insanely high, and he has a really similar tone and delivery to Lee. In general, this sound tends to be quite effective, though there are times where it becomes more annoying than enjoyable (such as in the chorus of “Leif Erikson”). Though the vocals can occasionally be grating, Iron Kingdom has numerous lengthy instrumental sections that are often centered around galloping harmonies and awe-inspiring guitar solos.
One area where Iron Kingdom excels is in the rhythm section. While neither the bass nor the drums are overly technical or flashy, they are incredibly powerful and do an excellent job supporting the music. The bass tends to pop out with Steve Harris-esque fills whenever the guitars are harmonizing; otherwise, it gallops along like a stampede, never letting up. The drums likewise provide the backbone to this commanding sound (one listen to the intro of “The Samurai” should make that clear quite quickly). Guitars are often the driving sound of metal, but that couldn’t be further from the truth for Iron Kingdom. On this album, the guitars provide diversity and excitement, but it is the rhythm section that is the reason this album hits so hard.
As good as “Ride For Glory” is, it is not immune from criticism. As mentioned earlier, the vocals can be a bit nerve-wracking, but this is particularly evident in some songs where there are just too many lyrics. This is a case where less is more in terms of vocal delivery. The other difficulty this album occasionally has is that it isn’t memorable from start to finish. There are a lot of really good songs here, and even the songs that don’t have a catchy chorus are littered with interesting parts, but it’s difficult to justify throwing this on instead of “Battle Cry” when you could be singing along to “The Axeman”, as one example. “The Samurai” is definitely the band’s strongest effort, and definitely shows promise for the future. Nevertheless, this is a young band that is clearly quite productive, and it is likely they will only get better over time. “Ride For Glory” has a lot to offer, and will appeal to all fans of blue-collar USPM!
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4.1/5 or 82%.
Written by Scott