Iron Fire – To the Grave (Napalm Records)

Friday, 15th March 2013
Rating: 7/10

For a band that’s traditionally been a tough sell to the power metal crowd, Denmark-based Iron Fire appear to have all the right pieces in place: a take-charge vocalist in the form of Martin Steene, sing-songy anthems, clichéd lyrics, and the prerequisite double-bass jarring and blazing guitar solos. With a nary a dent made after their relatively impressive Blade of Triumph album in 2007, the band return with To the Grave and if you weren’t a fan before, now is probably not the time to start.

Steene’s vocals have always been a sticking point for some, even crossing over to his stint with the post-Mercyful Fate Force of Evil, but the man can get the job done if given the proper material to work with. Opener “The Beast From the Blackened” is the right way to go, same for “The Kingdom,” where Steene leads the charge with calls for brotherhood and honor, you know – typical power metal topics.

To the Grave is wrought with every cliché one can think of in the power metal realm, notably the very Manowar “Kill For Metal” which is terribly cheesy; same for “The Battlefield.” The band’s textbook handle on the power metal format may not help matters either, even when strong cuts like “Hail to Odin” and “Frozen In Time” make their way through. There’s just something so unassuming about Iron Fire that you can’t help but at least give these numbers a passing listen, but again, the picky, picky power metal throng may not see it that way.

Of the dozens upon dozens of bands that genuinely ruin power metal, Iron Fire aren’t one of them. Although they are hardly a world-beating band (the last hope for power metal was Lost Horizon, sadly), Iron Fire is what it is and invariably, have some good – not great – songs to boot. Not sure what that counts for nowadays, so keep on keeping on, Iron Fire.

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