80% of heavy metal is played by after-hours Burger King workers with lyrics that are about killing people and worshiping the devil. It’s not exactly high-class entertainment, and you’d think more metal fans would have a sense of humor. However, they tend to be insecure crybabies, and this album illuminated that fact with an atom bomb blast.
Iron Fire is a power metal band that arrived in 2000 with Thunderstorm, a Hammerfall ripoff that possessed energy and passion (things the actual Hammerfall has not had in years) but little creativity. Their second album, On the Edge, was frontman Martin Steene’s effort at fixing that by adding Motley Crue vocals, progressive song structures, and various other things. The results were dismal sales, countless lost fans, and the termination of a record deal.
The band is too obscure for the album to be a notorious flop, but a listen reveals a sadly overlooked and misunderstood album that could have been the cure for power metal’s current diseases. I would rather hear this sort of thing than the new Edguy, Helloween, or Sonata Arctica albums – “experimental” though it is. Derided and maligned, this album is the power metal Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (but as Neil Degrasse Tyson pointed out, if Rudolph’s nose is shiny then it’s probably just reflecting light, not emitting it – useless for navigating fog.)
If you don’t want to listen to the whole thing, stay with the program just for tracks 1-7. The band is just on fire in these six songs and one prelude, with huge hooks, addictive melodies, and Tommy Hansen’s superb production – each of “The End of it All’s” kick drum hits strikes your ear like a spitball of perfectly compressed air. “Into the Abyss” lurches from downtempo sludge to uptempo thrashing like a Panzer tank changing gears, and “On the Edge” brings lots of agitation and vocal histrionics, accentuated by some death metal vocals.
But the greatest song of all is “Thunderspirit”, an amazing shockwave of high-speed energy driven by Morten Plenge’s lightning-fast drumming and maybe Martin Steene’s best vocal performance ever. The cannon-fire in the bridge was a nice touch.
Two songs are total bombs. “Wanted Man”…Stop it with this cat crap, Steene. The only place where you’re a wanted man is in the local gay bar for the 345345987 male escorts you forgot to pay. “The Price of Blood” is not as irritating but instead is far more boring – nothing to grab on to here except dry rock riffs and some goofy vocal effects.
But out of all the Iron Fire releases, this is the one that interests me the most. It’s unified, it’s catchy, it has an impressively low number of filler songs, and it’s not overly muddy or dark-sounding like their newer efforts. Definitely underrated, and worth seeking out. Heavy metal can suck, but you don’t have to.