They say never judge a book by its cover, yet when I saw the following band pop up in a promo e-mail I had already formed an idea how they would sound, and of course that I was a fan. With a name that is somewhere in the realms of Maiden and Manowar, Iron Kingdom have my interest.
First impressions are strong but lets be honest; it’s not ground breaking reinventing the wheel stuff. It’s entertaining though and at the end of the day that’s what music is, entertainment. There are plenty of bands out there I can turn to for crazy new innovative directions, but sometimes you just want some glorious old school metal that makes you want to batter a dragon to death. Iron Kingdom are said band and from the opening track, At The Gates, I’m sold. When we reach Crowned In Iron we truly reach old school metal at its finest though, the music and the lyrics just scream 80s traditional metal.
Vocally we’re on to a winner here, it’s a kick in the balls when a band are nailing it but the vocalist just can hit those sweet high notes. No worries here though, from the start Chris Osterman is hitting all sorts of high notes comfortably and has a strong midrange. Wait until you get to Guardian Angel though, those are some mighty testicle bursting highs; the guy has a set of pipes and no mistake.
One of the highlights I’ve picked up on early in (and by early I mean track two, Chains of Solitude) are the leads. Osterman and Kenny Kroecher get credit for writing some interesting melodies here instead of sweeping out, the solos are just the right side of complicated without getting overly wanky, it’s a thin line to walk and they do it well. The riffs are also solid, we love a harmony here at Sound The Charge and they have delivered a good stack of it.
The song writing itself really can’t be faulted, nor can the track list really. They have a rather beautiful number, Candeloro, led by pianist/drummer Amanda Osterman that comes in at just the right time to give us a break from metal, the gentle nature of that tune also makes the slow riff for Guardian Angel that much heavier.
At Home In The Dark is where the band as a whole really shine, some excellent guitar work, some stunning vocals and a rhythm section that are tight with bass player Leighton Holmes locking in with both the guitars and drums with ease, this would be the best song for me if not for the upcoming epic.
When I stuck this on I glanced at the track times and saw a fifteen minute long track, I’m a man that loves an epic so resisted the urge to skip straight to it. Egypt (The End Is Near) has got to be the highlight of this album; I wont ramble on about it, I just recommend you listen to it and the rest of the album. In all honesty, I downloaded this because it had a cool name and really wasn’t sure what to expect, I could not be more pleasantly surprised.