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Iron Kingdom – On the Hunt

Iron Kingdom
On the Hunt
by Rachel Montgomery at 08 October 2019, 12:21 PM

IRON KINGDOM is a New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal (NWTHM) band from Vancouver, British Colombia. Inspired by acts like IRON MAIDEN and THE SCORPIONS, their style, from their technique to their production, sticks to tradition. While they’re unsigned, they’ve had successful North American and Brazilian tours and have a few albums under their belt. Their latest full-length is traditional, looking and sounding like it was made thirty years ago.

White Wolf” begins with a riff with the tuning and production straight out of the 1980s. The quality of the instrumentals is fine; the production is just dated. Despite this, it’s an exciting, intense opener, especially with the guitar work. The speed and power of the guitars is the most impressive part of this track: relentless sweeps and riff changes keep it engaging.

Driftin’ Through Time” starts with some nice drum rolls. The song is as intense as the last one, but with a different, darker tone. I think it’s noteworthy that the chorus is slower than the verses. Like the last song, they showcase the wonderful guitar playing with a long solo.

Sign of the Gods” debuts with some impressive drum work. I’m not a fan of the screeching vocals here, but I realize it’s a style choice. I like it better in the short chorus when it’s smoother. The melodic guitar solo is a first on this album; so far, they’ve stuck to riffs and sweeps. Here, they begin with a clear melody line.

Keep It Steel” starts with some thrashing bass licks before the guitars squeal in right before the first verse.  The falsetto at the end of the first verse is grating, but the melodies at the end of the song are heavenly. It’s worth listening to for the intense, uplifting ending.

Raze and Ruin” is structured like the last song, but with a different tone, smoother and more melodic. They take the falsetto from the last song and smear it all over the chorus of this song. The instrumentals are wonderful, and the vocals are solid when they’re not screeching in my ear. It would be fine if it were pastiche like THE DARKNESS’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” but I believe it takes away from the gravitas of the song. The guitar solo is great, though.

Road Warriors” begins with a motorcycle revving up before the guitar squeals in. Then, we’re treated to a fast, sailing song that’s thematically perfect. The smooth melody makes me feel like I’m racing down a highway and the intensity is a wonderful fit with the song.

Invaders” is heavy with the drums and the galloping guitars make me feel like something’s coming. Of the tracks, this one’s my favorite vocally. The singer is at his clearest so far, the operatic quality isn’t ruined by falsettos or muddied by nasally stylings. The sudden and evolving melody changes keep the song moving through its longer run-time and the militant beat keeps to the theme.

Paragon” has high-speed arpeggio chords in the intro that are impressive. The high-pitched, non-falsetto, vocals keep with the speed themes. It’s pumped-up song that would be a fun listen at a concert. The solo employs a couple of riffs without much change at first before going into spiraling scale-climbs that show some good technique.

The Dream” begins as a slower song, and as the closer, it would be their only slow song. As it is, it’s one of those ballads that starts slow, but climbs in intensity. The vocalist begins in a lower register at first, along with the lower first verse. Between verses, the intensity builds, and the notes climb. Finally, the guitar starts screeching for the solo. Usually, a song like this is in the middle of the album to break up faster songs, but since it’s so different in speed from the rest of the album, it works as a cool-down.

The band utilizes gaps between verses and long solos to showcase complex guitar playing, so they know how to use what they’ve got. They stick closer to Speed Metal than anything else. My problems come with the vocal technique in a couple songs (I strongly dislike the falsetto), and the production makes this album sound like it’s stuck in the 1980s. While that goes with the style, it dates the band.

Overall, though, they’re clearly a talented band and I enjoyed the thematic elements in the album. If you like traditional Metal, specifically older Speed Metal, they’re worth checking out.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. White Wolf
2. Driftin’ Through Time
3. Sign of the Gods
4. Keep It Steel
5. Raze and Ruin
6. Road Warriors
7. Invaders
8. Paragon
9. The Dream
Lineup:
Chris Osterman – Guitars & Vocals
Leighton Holmes – Bass
Chris Sonea – Drums
Megan Merrick – Guitars
Record Label: Independent
     


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