Reviewed: December, 2020
Released: November 20, 2020 No Remorse Records
Reviewer: The Elitist Metalhead
Austin, Texas’ Eternal Champion have made quite a name for themselves when it comes to epic metal. Their name is based upon a hero in Michael Moorcock’s fantasy multiverse and their sound is quite reminiscent of bands like Manilla Road, Omen, Brocas Helm, etc. However, this is not just a band that wants to sound just like their influences and take the safe way out. Instead, they take the best of what the aforementioned bands brought to the table and they put their Eternal Champion spin on epic metal. Once again here is a NWOTHM band that is getting a lot of hype and in this case none of it is misplaced. Their 2016 debut THE ARMOR OF IRE was one of the best metal debuts to ever grace our ears in a long time. So a little over four years later the follow up, RAVENING IRON, is released and let me tell you, it was worth the wait.
The problem with releasing such a highly acclaimed debut is that you sometimes run the risk of setting the bar too high. Then you are under pressure to come up with a follow up that can live up to the standard set on the debut….unless it just flows naturally, as I believe is the case with Eternal Champion. RAVENING IRON not only picks up where the debut left off, they were able to surpass the debut with a much more consistent album. From the opening seconds of the opener “A Face in the Glare” you know this is going to be special. Coming straight at you with some crushing riffs and a blazing solo, then the verse riff with Jason Tarpey’s unmistakable vocals coming through lets you know you are in for something really special. His voice sounds like Mark Shelton only with more control. He has one of the most unique voices in metal and his voice is part of the defining sound of this band. Yes, they play epic metal but they do not even try to rip off their predecessors. The title track is another blazing five minutes of epic riffs and Tarpey’s melodic vocals. The solos on this song need mention as well. Perfectly executed and they add so much atmosphere just in there tone and how they are produced.
What sets this album apart from the debut is how it flows. The debut kind of lost steam on the second half. With RAVENING IRON the albums flows all the way to the end. The songs on the second half of the album are just as strong as the first half and that is what creates that flow. “Worms of the Earth” is my pick of best song on the album and it comes rather late in the run time. This song just slays from beginning to end. Its goes from a gallop to almost speed metal, something that this band does not need to rely on to make crushing metal. In fact, this is one of the speedier numbers but it’s the way the song is executed. Once again, the guitar tone on the solos just adds so much to the songs. “Banners of Arhai” rounds it out and from the opening riffs you would not think this was the closer. Starting off with some heavy riffing and a godly solo, it almost has an epic doom feel. Tarpey’s vocals add even more atmosphere and fit this song perfect.
Eternal Champion had one of the most powerful debuts that has come out in a long time and they made an impact on the metal world. With RAVENING IRON, not only did they show that they did not set the bar too high, they showed that they are still raising the bar. This is eight perfectly executed songs and each song flows right into the next taking you on a metal journey. This album will change your life….it’s that essential.