Iron Fire - _Blade of Triumph_
(Napalm Records, 2007)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (
Martin Steene has certainly had his ups and downs over the last seven years. After emerging as one of the darling children of the European power metal press in 2000, Iron Fire found critics and fans alike scrambling for the exits with their 2001 sophomore effort, the nearly notorious _On the Edge_. Dropped by their label, Steene found the rest of his band jumping ship on the assumption that a once promising career had immolated itself. (Or was it a fluke? Musicians rarely own up to releasing shitty albums. Tom Fisher from Celtic Frost is literally the only one that jumps immediately to mind.)Not to rehash the remainder of the press bio, but suffice to say that Steene assembled a new gang of recruits and pretty much regained the good will generated by that first album with 2006's _Revenge_. And now, barely a year later, he's back with another fantasy-with-cheese career highlight, the peppy _Blade of Triumph_. I have no lyric sheet at my disposal, so I can't really follow the plot the way I used to with my old "Sword in the Stone" book-and-record as a kid, but I'm a pretty astute listener, and I'm getting "warrior on a quest of some sort with magick-wielding baddies throwing up hurdles every which way". So how about it? Am I right? Either way, I don't get the impression the good guys are having much trouble dispatching evil; the cheeriness just never really flags and Steene's crew sound like they're having way too much fun.No, Iron Fire are not one of these new breed of dark power metal bands like Nevermore, Iced Earth or label mates Intense... it's all celebratory, pep rally, gung ho "hail to the king" sprightliness from one end of _Blade of Triumph_ to the other. This stuff floats my boat in a temporary, disposable sort of way, but it constantly amazes and intrigues me the extent to which this stuff is all the rage in Europe. It's almost as if there is some meta-aesthetic appreciation that I'm missing that has little to do with the willfully generic tunes etched into the record's grooves. Hell, I'll admit it: the sheer improbability of this stuff still rolling off overworked assembly lines in 2007 faster than they can press 'em has a sort of underdog appeal which goes a long way toward offsetting any indifference I might have otherwise felt toward the release of, say, another Iron Fire album. Salut.
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