Released: 2013, AFM Records
Brussels’ Belgium neoclassical power metal sons Iron Mask have returned with their fifth album, appropriately titled FIFTH SON OF WINTERDOOM. The lineup from 2011’s BLACK AS DEATH remains intact, lending the new album an added level of consistency. FIFTH SON OF WINTERDOOM is an album that bears all the trademarks of Iron Mask, something that long term fans can appreciate. For curious listeners, the band has increased the number of accessible songs, sure to be crowd pleasers on the festival circuit.
Most bands tend to lead an album off with their fastest or heaviest track, but Iron Mask unleashes their most commercial tune in “Back To A Mystery”, an upbeat and hook-laden song with an eye towards 80s AOR. Guitarist and band leader Dushan Petrossi does not waste any time though in placating his long –term fans, this spawn of the school of Yngwie opening “Lion In The Cage” with a fluid and brisk neo-classical solo. Song-wise there are no surprises here, just flawlessly executed power metal. Mark Boals continues to amaze with his vocal versatility, easily channeling Dio on “Only One Commandment” and then referencing Johnny Gioeli in several other places. Complimenting the varied vocals, are songs that range from mid-paced with chugging heft as in “Seven Samurai” to swifter gallops of speed and keyboard/guitar duels. With over an hour of music and 12 songs, there are places where the band bogs down, but hang around for the end because closing track, “The Picture Of Dorian Grey” is a worthy and heavier tune.
Ultimately, Petrossi and band play it fairly safe, FIFTH SON OF WINTERDOOM offering few surprises but no truly daft tracks either, unless you include the opening to the title track, a 10 minute tune of epic Iron Mask. Their style is in your face, and you only need to look at the totally expected and somewhat amusing album cover to know what style of music dwells within the package. If you are a fan of Dionysus, Secret Sphere, Silent Force, or Bloodbound, but have not yet discovered Iron Mask, then FIFTH SON OF WINTERDOOM is as good a place to start as any.