Blood & Iron
Voices of Eternity
Released: 2013, Self Released
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
When presented with a moniker like Blood & Iron, there’s a certain degree of implied comfort that comes along with it – you know you’re probably gonna get some epic metal. And some epic metal ye will receive on Blood & Iron’s recently released VOICES OF ETERNITY. Some quick history for the uninformed – based out of Bangalore, India, Blood & Iron trace their origins back to 2005 and started releasing music independently shortly thereafter. Bred on a steady diet of classic metal, VOICES OF ETERNITY is actually the band’s third album, took 2 years to make, and features 7 contributing artists spread across 3 countries. That, dear readers, is what you called commitment to your craft. Summoning the inspiration in the most traditional of veins, Blood & Iron straddle the line between classic Maiden/Priest sensibilities, with the complexity and nuance of early Savatage/Queensryche, but strictly the pre-90’s material from said bands. It’s not always a perfect execution, but it’s pretty friggin’ respectable effort.
What endeared me most about Blood & Iron is the complete lack of pomp and/or over the top theatrics that typically accompany so-called “traditional” metal bands today. While at times VOICES OF ETERNITY has moments of grandiosity, it is at its core, a very straightforward, no bullshit album. I’m not gonna lie, when I heard the opening moments of “Eternal Rites” with its crunch, harmonics, and whammy bends, my mind immediately skipped back in time to a much younger me sitting in my bedroom, spinning records like HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING for the first time, and feeling the hair on my neck stand up in a way that I’ll never forget. And then Giles Lavery opens his pipes with a welcoming, wailing “YEAAAAHHHHHHH”, it just feels so, soooo right. The 9 tracks on VOICES OF ETERNITY cover familiar tomes of the metal faithful – good n’ evil, rebellion, apocalyptic turmoil, choices and consequence, and even a homage to George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” (which is a pretty metal piece of work on its own merit), but pageantry never oversteps musicianship, giving the whole affair that much more credibility.
Musically speaking, the band has some serious chops amongst them. The guitar duo of Shetty and Bains are relentless, balancing crunching rhythms against tastefully shredtastic lead runs across the album (check out “Ascendant”, the aforementioned “Eternal Fire” or the dizzying opening of “Redemption Day” for proof). Tracks like the Martin inspired “Ghost of Memory” and “Path Not Taken” are more advantageous efforts, and show the band stretching their progressive inclinations the furthest. Dragonclaw frontman Giles Lavery guests as lead vocalist on the album, and while at times I wished he would reel his performance in just a wee bit, there’s no denying that the guy has range. And drummer Praveen Kumar is a sort of unsung hero; his performance is seated way back in the mix, but the guy seamlessly covers territory between standard 4/4 timekeeping to blast beat frenzy.
For all of the high points across VOICES OF ETERNITY, there are a few bones of contention. Tracks like “Underground Rebellion” and “Legion” tend to overstay their welcome whilst relying on sing-a-long choruses, and as mentioned earlier, Lavery tends to lay the vocal histrionics on a bit thick at times. And one of the drawbacks to having your recording lineup reside in different countries is that the end result can sound patched together, which VOICES OF ETERNITY does at times. Despite multi-tracking on the vocals, they’re mixed way up front and have a decidedly different feel than the supporting instrumentation. When the band is rockin’ it’s not as noticeable, but there are assuredly points where it takes you out of the moment.
Those points aside, Blood & Iron have delivered an excellent album that will win over some through its nostalgia and others through its ingenuity. But either way, chances are that VOICES OF ETERNITY will win you over. Take a trip to the Blood & Iron Facebook page for more info.