Summer finally arrived. And the Heavy Metal heatwave is on as well, methinks. We just covered Ghost Avenue and now need to return to Ironflame with Blood Red Victory. This is one record that the RMR deck crew over here criminally neglected for long, endless months. But hey, never say die, right?
So, let’s step right in, and brutally so. The team over here has been bruised by those dime-a-dozen soundalikes. Heavy Metal served on a mighty platter of wannabes with a taste for forgery. Those that copy the masters of the genre with wanton abandon and use Dio1) and Iron Maiden as their unsuspecting lighthouses. Sometimes to the point that some of these outfits almost deteriorate into tribute bands without saying so.
And then you get the solo artists. The jacks of all trades, whose productions often sport flaws by the score and some truly feature a plastic sound. Real masters are few and far between. And who can really blame them? Already mastering one instrument is difficult, leave alone truly acing a few of ’em right away.
Because here is the crux of the matter. Blood Red Victory is brought to you by one Andrew D’Cagna. A true lone warrior of the Heavy Metal arts with all the accouterments that this trade brings with it. And let’s be clear right away, this guy is good. Real good, in a way not many have mastered their trade so far.
From his soaring vocals2) to any and all instruments, this record is just expertly done. And for sake of clarity, everything means all instruments, except the guitar solos that go to Quinn Lukas and Jesse Scott. And wise is a solo artist who knows his or her flaws.
Right off the Gates of Evermore, Ironflame speeds away with that trademark Heavy Metal sound that we grew accustomed to over the eons that this style exists. And already with Honor Bound you’ll find that sweet pull only the maiden can exert. In other words, Mr. D’Cagna here leaves no doubt where his meat and potatoes come from.
Now, we could of course take issue with this blatant fanboyism3) on Blood Red Victory, but we won’t. Because – again – this record really excels at its trade. Most of the tracks have that knack for just making you sing along before you know it. The chorus of Seekers of the Blade – for instance – rolled around in my head for days until it almost drove my entourage and me almost nuts. I am also guilty of bawling lyrics with my headphones on and needless fist-pumping in public. But then, my black Iron Maiden t-shirt may have saved my bacon from arrest.
Whilst Traveler-like Speed Metal dominates many of the tracks, Ironflame also truly masters the mid-tempo Heavy Metal piece. Blood Red Cross with its mighty beat truly got on my good side. But its guitar solo – albeit short – just blew me away.
Now, by the time On Ashen Wings arrives on stage, things calm down a little. Somehow the abundant oomph lost itself somewhere, it seems. And not quite unexpectedly so. After the first four red-hot screamers, I kind of wondered if the band would be able to keep it up. And truly so, things got a tad less blood red on what was formerly called the B-Side. Even if most of the glory bubbles back for the last three tracks or so. With Night Queen putting a pretty decent stopper on this bottle of wonders.
And contrite RMR has to admit it finally. The crew over here was ignorant of Ironflame until now4). In that sense, I’m glad that Blood Red Victory crossed our hawse in that enigmatic and truly energetic fashion. Andrew D’Cagna‘s brand of Heavy Metal constantly croons5) that siren song that this genre excels at. And it harkens back to a time when metal was hot, young, and easy. A modern-day homage to the long-gone times of NWoBHM6). Even if this band hails from the rust-colored realms of the Ohio Valley of 2020.
By the mighty metal gods, this is one tasty piece of speedy Heavy Metal. One that we truly enjoyed. So, you adepts of soaring, red-hot alloy, this is your chance to get an undiluted piece from a genre many thought dead.
Have some, you won’t regret it.