What the hell happened to Iron Fire? They were so good for the first four albums or so and then it has been slowly going downhill ever since.
Iron Fire are back with their 8th album AMONG THE DEAD. The have dropped off Napalm Records onto a relatively new Norwegian label called Crime Records. Fortunately, a step-down to a new, smaller they haven’t had a drop in production value or presentation as they have an other killer album cover depicting a ‘Road Warrior’ like death machine plowing through an army of zombies! Unfortunately, the cover art can’t salvage a very average album. In other developments, the very first Iron Fire drummer Gunnar has returned to the fold and long-time members Martin Lund (Bass) and Fritz Wagner (Guitar) so that is a pretty big overhaul.
The main problem with AMONG THE DEAD is Martin Steene’s voice. Maybe he has changed it on purpose or maybe he can’t sing like he used too sixteen years ago when the debut came out. He has for whatever reason, he has adopted this very unpleasant tough-guy ‘shout’ style of singing. The back part of ‘Made To Suffer’ is almost unlistenable as he tries to channel his inner Phil Anslemo or something. Horrible. It is totally inappropriate for this kind of speedy Power Metal. The music is very solid, punchy, driving Germanic style metal, as compared to the happier euro-Metal style. It’s heavy, I’ll admit that, but almost too heavy, with not enough dynamics. The albums is fast and heavy so it has many of the necessary elements, on paper for an enjoyable listen but it is not enough. The song-craft is solid, a few highlights but they are front-loaded and the album quickly lags.
The albums ends of a fairly strong note with a surprisingly good Power ballad and a straight-ahead Metallica cover. The band choice of cover might be the most telling clue for the new direction of the band. Of all the songs they could have done, a Power Metal band covers a thrash song. It’s a great song, don’t get me wrong but it is an odd choice and it betrays perhaps where Steen’s heart is at these days. AMONG THE DEAD I feel is going to be relegated to the bottom half of their catalogue by the original, traditional fans but maybe they might pick up some fans with the new direction. Are Iron Fire treading water and slowly sinking or striking out for new waters? Only time will tell but either way it is not a welcome change to my ears resulting in a very average album.
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