Sometimes a band releases an album so good that it’s difficult to judge the rest of their catalogue objectively. While I can’t admit to having heard every Iron Fire record, this is the dilemma that results from their 2007 masterpiece “Blade of Triumph”. That record approaches the upper echelon and power metal, and it puts the band in the unenviable position of trying to find a way to outdo it. This brings us to 2016’s “Among The Dead”, which certainly is not a copy of “Blade of Triumph”, but it also doesn’t reach the same heights.
In general, if you like Iron Fire’s typical sound, this record will work. They still have tons of pounding, heavy riffs that are substantially more aggressive than many of their peers. Additionally, the inimitable vocals of Martin Steene absolutely dominate this release. He has one of the most unique voices in metal, and it is always put to good use. The band still continues to use occasional harsh vocals, particularly in the title track, but the vast majority of the singing on this record is clean. Fortunately, Steene sounds every bit as good here as he has on every other Iron Fire record, even on the very cheesy ballad "When The Lights Go Out".
As noted above, the key difference between this record and “Blade of Triumph” is simply that the songwriting isn’t as strong, but that doesn’t mean there is little to enjoy here; quite the opposite, in fact. “Hammer of the Gods”, despite being the millionth song with this title, is an unabashedly catchy anthem that gets better with each listen. “Iron Eagle” deserves a similar description, but really, most songs on this album get the job done.
The record closes with a cover of Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. Though it is performed competently, it is a strange choice for a cover. “For Whom The Bell Tolls” is objectively a fairly boring song (and I say this as a huge Metallica fan), that is only pulled off by the fact that Metallica was the most inspired metal band around in 1984. Nobody could match their enthusiasm back then, and they could make even the most plodding of tracks into unbelievable metal anthems. Iron Fire’s cover proves this fact, as the cover is probably the low point of the record.
On the whole, Iron Fire fans should know what to expect. “Among The Dead” is another record true to the band’s legacy, but is not necessarily a highlight. Newcomers to the band would be best advised to start with “Blade of Triumph”, but this record would definitely be representative of their sound, and more than good enough to intrigue your interest enough to explore their discography.
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"Among The Dead"
"Hammer Of The Gods"
3.9/5 or 78%.
Written by Scott