Whoa, these guys will be up against some stiff competition. 2022 has been a pretty good year for Heavy Metal over at the RMR office tower. And as always, some of the material was excellent and some parts less so. That said, however, some of this year’s output wasn’t quite pvre heaviness anymore. In other words, contaminations from other genres crept in. Albeit sometimes to great effect, so it’s not all bad. But still, we seem to have trouble these days keeping to the spirit of the ’70s and ’80s, a time when the NWoBHM1) was in full swing.
So, Iron Kingdom‘s newest release The Blood of Creation truly was a welcome surprise. They indeed sound like some mix of early Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and a hefty dose of Saxon that was ‘en vogue’ many decades ago. By their own admission, the band seeks to recreate classical metal and the end result is pretty compelling. Or do we have yet another band that lost its speedometer along the way? Don your helmet and hit it!
Because often, the gang around Chris Osterman really seem to revel in all things velocity. To the point that Iron Kingdom here seriously challenge Power Metal outfits when they are at their worst. You’ll also find some juicy albeit short passages that seriously deviate into the loud soundscapes thrash usually inhabits. But most of the time, The Blood of Creation stays slam in the middle of that large highway of metal where Heavy Metal thrives in.
And – in fact – this here record is a deceptively deep one. The first few minutes already seem to be a tell-all and one’s tempted to just leave it at that. Five minutes of listening and – bang – go do the review, like. But not so fast. I hinted at it before, but there’s some complexity and also real metal geekery here.
Apart from Osterman‘s trve and time-tested Heavy Metal screams, there’s some stellar guitar work on display. And at first, the RMR crew here got a bit confused because the band sports two lead guitars and nobody who’s doing the rhythmics. Until it became clear that both, Megan Merrick and Osterman, often play as one of those tag teams. Need examples? Try the instrumental Primordial or the excellent Hunter and Prey for some pretty prolific shredding. Oh, and if you need more of that, Grip of Nightmares bears some stellar guitar work on a foundation of top-notch classical metal wafting over straight from the ’80s.
And to put the aforementioned speed warning into perspective, further down the tracklist you’ll find an abundance of galloping about the soundscape that should net them a complaint from Bruce Dickinson.2) And speaking about complaints, the only slightly negative in this sea of trad would be the undue, noodly length of The Blood Of Creation. In a way, Iron Kingdom recreated age-old errors the maidens already made before. And yet. The track’s filled to the brim with meaty riffs and stellar solos that many a fan will truly revel in. But it starts to feel mushy about halfway down the airtime compared to the crisp pace of the rest of the tracklist. And that’s a pity.
Now, The Blood of Creation won’t be material likely to appear on our Top 10. However, Iron Kingdom created an iron-bound,3) battle-hardened piece of traditional Heavy Metal that truly made me want to turn the clock back to those long-gone days of glory. Times when metal was just that, the pure joy of a style that was still new, exciting, and powerful. Or to let the band speak in their own words, they “…decided to play metal the way it used to be played in the 70s and 80s.” Well, mission fucking accomplished. Well done, guys.4)
Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Official Band Site
Release Date: 4 November 2022