|Review: Iron Mask - Fifth Son Of Winterdoom|
|Fifth Son Of Winterdoom|
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2013
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: November 30, 2013
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
for:Fifth Son Of Winterdoom
In the past I'd always found it hard to sum up any sort of excitement for Iron Mask. Sure, there's no doubting that the band are a talented bunch of guys, but there's only so much neo-classical power metal I can take; there's only so many times I can hear the harmonic minor scale blazed through at the blink of an eye; hell, there's only so much shredding a man can take! Back then the neo-classical power metal scene was seriously oversaturated, and what with acts like At Vance, Virtuocity, and Dushan Petrossi's stronger project Magic Kingdom comprising my diet for the sound, Iron Mask fell on the sidelines with their orthodox, been-there-done-that approach to the style.
Here, I've found myself relatively ensnared, and enamored with the band. Whilst there's still plenty of neo-classical timbre throughout, the songwriting feels at the most focused I've heard from Iron Mask. Particularly in the shorter, succinct numbers that are without a doubt the highest points on the album, and while I do feel they could have snipped one or two tracks to make the whole smoother, there isn't anything identifiably bad throughout.
Certainly one of the stronger elements on Fifth Son Of Winterdoom is Mark Boals' vocals, a singer I'm sure many will recognize from Yngwie Malmsteen, Royal Hunt, or a whole host of other acts. I know, I know, he was on their last album, and sounded good there, but here he feels better integrated with a lot of the material feeling catered to him. Particularly in early highlights like "Like A Lion In A Cage" and "One Commandment" where he really gets to shine with his smooth, shimmering delivery and the latter number giving me some flashbacks to his stint in Royal Hunt.
Musically this is professional and proficient power metal, with plenty of melodic and neo-classical shading throughout. Thematically there's loads of cool stuff, from the fantastical to the historical. Speaking of theme, "Seven Samurai" does a bang up job of conveying its oriental flavor, probably my choice number here thanks to some thumping riffs, and it seriously makes me want to play Shinobi III. The title track also covers a lot of ground with its wintry theme, helping evoke images of bear skins around a fire, crisp snow on the ground, and of course tempting feelings of mead resting in the stomach. Ah, mead would be nice.
Like I said earlier, there isn't all that much identifiable as bad across the board. The album does feel a little longer than it should have been, but I guess you get some bang for you buck. Performances across the board are excellent, and whilst Dushan Petrossi's guitars don't completely dominate, there's still a fuck load of shred-tastic solos throughout, with "Run To Me" almost imploding from its sheer amount of guitar leads. On the whole, a quality release, and as far as I'm concerned their strongest to date. If you like your power metal with a neo-classical tinge and a dollop of hard rock, then you can't go wrong here.
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