Iron Fire – Voyage of the Damned (Napalm Records)

Sunday, 24th March 2013
Rating: 7.5/1

An alteration in sound and/or direction doesn’t always warrant the changing of one’s name, but some bands should strongly consider it, like Denmark’s Iron Fire. Known mostly for their relatively light and shallow brand of traditional power metal, the band has made a stylistic shift toward more heavy and streamlined metal avenues on Voyage of the Damned. It’s not like they’re an entirely new band…they’re just new and improved-sounding.

Of immediate notice is singer Martin Steene, who once possessed a mildly annoying shrill that sounded like Vince Neil after he took a nap. In place of that, is a more aggressive tone, one that is gussied up by effects, thus making songs like “Enter Oblivion OJ – 666” and the aptly-titled “Slaughter of Souls” far more muscular than anything we’ve heard from the band. Steene still has his melodic moments though, like on the domineering title track, yet this new approach has seemingly given the singer some fresh legs.

Gallops and Maiden melodies have been mostly shown the door in favor of blunt riffing and textured songs. The power metal bravado is still mostly there, it’s just toned-down and cast away in favor of a darker sheen, something that has songs like “Different Eyes,” “Ten Years In Space,” and “Verge to Collide” operating in a different fashion. It’s as if Iron Fire decided to start playing with big boy toys even after 15 years and counting in the business.

Iron Fire’s history of churning out unthreatening power metal might overshadow the strength of Voyage of the Damned (the band should watch their albums titles – this rings too close to Dragonforce’s Valley of the Damned). As such, the power play the band makes here is one that should keep their career moving in more than just a lateral direction…it’s a better album their name, history, and anything else happening before it would suggest.

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