So my dear friend Lior over at Metal Temple sent me an album for review. That’s nothing new; he does that all the time. The thing I found odd is that he sent me an album from Iron Mask, specifically their latest, Fifth Son of Winterdoom available November 19 via AFM Records. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t they a Power Metal band? Indeed they are, and this is not usually my thing at all. But, I am nothing if not open-minded, so I gave it a few listens. And while it isn’t bad, it’s not great, either. I think if I was 15 and this was 1988 I’d be all over this, wearing out the tape in my Walkman (for those of you who even remember what those were!), listening over and over, with this band’s patch emblazoned on my denim jacket. But alas, it is 2013, and much of this album sounds very, very dated.
Now this is not a knock against the musical abilities of the respective members of Iron Mask, not at all. The band’s got chops, there’s no denying that. But much of this album sounds like the same thing over and over again, and there was really nothing to get excited about or sink my teeth into. I mean, songs like “Angel Eyes Demon Soul” and opener “Back Into Mystery” have some catchy hooks to them, but at the same time they don’t make me rush to hear them again. And “Father Farewell” is just terrible, no matter who it’s dedicated to.
Now, with all that said, there were some diamonds in this rough. “Eagle of Fire” and “Like a Lion In a Cage” are pure Neo-Classical/Power Metal bliss, all driving riffs and 70 mph noodling solos. And “Run to Me” is another standout, along with “Seven Samurai”. “One Commandment” is one of the ballsier tunes as well, with a chunky riff throughout. The closer “The Picture of Dorian Grey” is probably my favorite, a fast-paced seven minute ride that manages to be heavy and melodic, without being too catchy, unlike much of this album.
Which brings me to the title track: starting with the crunch of footsteps in snow accompanied by a crying infant, we are treated to ten minutes of a song that quite frankly goes nowhere except in circles. It is a rather bloated affair that is not good. Not at all. That was probably the longest ten minutes of my life. But wait, there’s more! “Reconquista 1492” lumbers along at a snail’s pace and can only be described as slow torture featuring recycled Iron Maiden riffs. And oy, “Rock Religion”…with that title, do I need to say any more??
Overall, I think Fifth Son of Winterdoom suffers from a combination of self-indulgence and being overly-catchy in too many places. It’s a shame, because these guys are clearly very talented. I think if they’d trimmed about four songs off the record they could have had a real winner.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Picture of Dorian Grey”, “Eagle of Fire”, “Run to Me”, “One Commandment”, “Like a Lion In a Cage”