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Iron Fire - "Voyage Of The Damned" (CD)

Iron Fire - "Voyage Of The Damned" CD cover image

"Voyage Of The Damned" track listing:

1. The Dark Beyond
2. Enter Oblivion OJ-666
3. Taken
4. Slaughter of Souls
5. Leviathan
6. The Final Odyssey
7. Ten Years In Space
8. Voyage of the Damned
9. With Different Eyes
10. Dreams of the Dead Moon
11. Verge to Collide
12. Realm of Madness

Reviewed by on January 13, 2012

"The sound is a tasty blend of progressive and traditional power with beautifully played keyboard orchestrations and well placed death-like growls seasoned throughout from guest vocalist David Ingram."

From time to time, even the most learned listener of metal has been known to poorly judge an album by its cover. I know when I first encountered Nocturnal Rites’ “In A Time of Blood and Fire,” I would have bet the farm it was black metal. One look at the seventh release from Danish power metal band Iron Fire could conjure up the usual Germanic power metal comparisons to Primal Fear and Gamma Ray. Sadly, those disillusioned by the stagnation of traditional power metal could easily skip over this release with a mere glance. With “Voyage of the Damned,” Iron Fire succeeds in flipping the traditional power metal formula over and giving it a more modern feel.

Iron Fire has been a tumultuous unit for the first nine years of existence. From 1995-2003, the band was a revolving door, with the only surviving member being vocalist Martin Steene. Fortunately, Steene showed no surrender. The more cohesive years since have seen the admirable, but less than eye-popping releases, “Revenge” (2003), “Blade of Triumph” (2006), “To the Grave” (2009) and “Metalmorphosized” (2010). Eight years later, the band has finally ascended to a level that separates it from the pack and should draw serious consideration from all.

“Voyage of the Damned” has maturity and depth of song writing that far exceeds any of the band’s previous efforts. The hour long release requires patience and may require multiple listens for one to really appreciate it. As overtly “metal” as the band’s 2010 release “Metalmorphosized” was, the title is more apropos for the instant album. For one, the sound is a tasty blend of progressive and traditional power with beautifully played keyboard orchestrations and well placed death-like growls seasoned throughout from guest vocalist David Ingram (Ex-Benediction/Bolt Thrower). Steene’s power vocals match the emotion and depth of the song-writing perfectly.

Tracks on the release display a variety of styles: hyper choke riffing verses (“Enter Oblivion OJ-666,” “With Different Eyes”), rich Nightwish-like keyboard blasts and chorus chanting (“Leviathan”), impressive emotional ballads (“The Final Odyssey”), groove laden riffing (“Verge to Collide”), and rich deep epic progressive classics like the ten minute title track. The only songs that consistently tread the straight line of traditional power are “Ten Years in Space,” “Dreams of the Dead Moon,” and “Realm of Madness” (the opening riff of which is reminiscent of Metallica’s "One”). The stand out song is the foot tapping and fetching “Slaughter of Souls,” which is one of a handful that are greatly enhanced by Ingram’s backing growls (as are “Leviathan” and “Dreams of the Dead Moon”).

Iron Fire surprisingly starts the new year out with a bang. It is all about expecting the unexpected from this highly underrated band. To pass over “Voyage of the Damned” because it looks like a generic power metal release would prove to be a sad mistake.

Highs: The depth of song writing and musicianship. Addition of death growls only enhances the music.

Lows: The album runs about an hour and requires patience. The cover and logo could fool expectations.

Bottom line: "Voyage of the Damned" proves to be Iron Fire's real "Metalmorphosis."

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)