281286What do you do when you have some new songs, but not enough for an album? When you’ve got unreleased tracks, but not enough for a compilation? When you’ve got a bunch of band members hanging around the studio, but they’re not seriously interested in a reunion? In 2010, Danish power metal band Iron Fire’s answer was to “do all three simultaneously.”

It’s hard to figure out exactly what sort of album this is – most database type websites consider it a new studio release, but most of it was written in 2003, and was present in rough form in various demos. It’s mixed up with a few, and all of them are recorded by the band’s former members: and it’s a metal band, so there’s a ton of former members.

I don’t know why they bothered tracking down every random asshole who was ever in this band to contribute instruments – you can’t hear any difference. The drums are very triggered and mechanical. The guitars are a pulverising backwash of distortion. You’re not going to be smiling and thinking “hey, that’s Morten Plenge on drums!” Everyone’s performance sounds fairly interchangeable, except for vocalist Martin Steene, who has always humanised some very inhuman music and continues to do so here.

The songs are all fairly strong, although it’s clear why some of them never appeared on a real Iron Fire album. “The Phantom Symphony” is long-winded, but contains a lot of tasty treats, tacky horror-movie obsessed lyrics aside. “Back to the Pit” and “The Graveyard” are just the usual fare. “Crossroads” is a ballad that serves to break up the relentless speed that dominates most of the album.

The new songs are better. “Reborn to Darkness” has a jangly, progressive edge to its riff approach. “Still Alive” lays on the quadtracked guitars, sounding more like Nevermore than a European power metal band. “My Awakening” is fast and powerful as fuck, probably the most immediate and memorable track on the album, with some well-placed death metal vocals in the chorus. The bonus version of the album contains an orchestral version of “Crossroads” and another re-recorded song called “Afterlife”, which sounds pleasant enough.

The presentation and production is good, but it’s not as much as a retrospective as you’d hope for – this is a VERY modern sounding Iron Fire. I hope you like downtuned guitars and death metal vocals. Ultimately I don’t know how necessary something like this is – Metalmorphosized is something aimed at the band’s hardcore fans, and they’d probably be more satisfied by hunting down the demos that these songs originally appeared on. Still one of the more memorable compilation-cum-studio-cum-reunion albums I’ve heard.

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