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Iron Fire: Voyage of the Damned

While checking on the status of one final Christmas gift, one that wasn’t even my own, I noticed in my e-mail below the shipping notification that I clicked on of a reminder about three new Napalm Records albums in their press section. After heading over, I grabbed the three that sat there, and wondered how the label would kick off 2012. Amongst them was Iron Fire‘s latest album, Voyage of the Damned. As a fan of the group, I just knew a first impression article was not just an instinctive thing to write considering the band’s previous works, and just had a feeling this would greatly trump the let down that was Metalmorphosized. Right?

Well, right after grabbing my promotional copy I threw it right into the playlist and let it run. To hell with the introduction track, I was ready to tear into some head-bang-worthy Power Metal, and “Enter Oblivion” did not fail. Immediately I found my head jerking back and forth with the urge to throw my devil horns in the air and pound them along to the rhythm, but didn’t to type this out. The guitar solo was absolutely stunning as the down played harmonized clean singing suited the maniacal music and faster pace perfectly. The additional vocation distortion used at key times in the backgroun of the chorus, early verses, and to close the song out perfectly just felt like the icing on the very Metal cake. The silence that erupts after that last distorted word felt like a weight lifted from my shoulders of a prime display of Power Metal glory and authority as “Taken” slowly faded in to a rather dismal sounding tone and crushing approach unlike it’s precessor.

The slory, glorious pace and sound of the track made the experience feel like a whole new ballgame. While “Enter Oblivion” felt a lot like a modern Power Metal track sans the Symphonic elements, this track really took the hook-driven melodies away and felt like it hammered a respect for that the one(s) the glory of this song was meant for. The vocals included a rhaspier, yet higher pitched sound in the background to accompany the less restrained vocals to add some richness to the already heavy, somewhat chugging guitars and driving drums. There’s also more of a keyboard push with this song, and sadly that’s what ends up feeling a bit like overkill. This gives the track more of a conflicting Space Rock kind of sound, especially when the keyboard solo kicks in, as well as the more gothic atmosphere tinged notes that appear towards the end, giving it a far less heavier sound than what it started with. This seems to carry over into “Slaughter of Souls,” the next song on the album, and one that is of a much slower pace, but not as grand. It feels a little more like a traditional track that is geared more towards atmosphere with limited keyboards. It’s not bad, but I couldn’t help but feel that it wasn’t anything all that spectacular aside some moments I found myself getting swept away by the rhythm, which was largely during the chorus.

With the pace clearly slowing down, “Leviathan” kicks in, and right at the start I couldn’t help but feel like it was a Melodic Death Metal track, especially having heard the latest In Flames album. The chugging sound was good and the additional keyboards tried to bring in as much of an epic sound as they could, but it all just didn’t work. This track really just doesn’t feel much like a Power Metal song, and it just doesn’t stand out too much due to it’s rather traditional set up outside the gutturals that clearly sound a little more unique to the chorus then your typical Power Metal group. But, sadly, that’s not all. The last track I decided to end with was “The Final Odyssey,” which really felt more like it was meant to be some kind of Metal opera, taking a more ballad approach that leaves the listener just with nothing to say. The vocal performance feels more emotional, but this is like listening to Manowar at their cheesiest, but the Metal is placed with keyboards and some additional electronic elements, which comprises the entire near six minute song. It’s nothing impressive, and infact ends up being very boring.

Iron Fire started this album off on such a high note for me, but the more I got into it, the more Voyage of the Damned really started to feel generic. As a fan of the band, my time with the first five songs just really let me down, and while I’m more then willing to go back to the first two songs, I really don’t care if I hear the others. I’m still intrigued as the how the rest of the release will sound as a fan of Iron Fire, but right now, this album feels like one of their weakest offerings I’ve head up to this point.

Article based on digital review material provided by Napalm Records.