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When eternity isn't quite forever. - 74%

hells_unicorn, September 28th, 2012

Back about 8 years ago there was a little known Iron Maiden tribute band out of Germany known as Made Of Iron, a band that didn’t really stop being a tribute band even after they started putting out original material. Their brief existence culminated in a lone self-titled LP release that didn’t really make many waves in the metalcore dominated mid 2000s, and ultimately the project was scrapped, or at least that’s what most familiar with this obscure outfit would think. However, the recent signing of another band that shares most of the consequential members of said former project called Sacred Gate would suggest a very different story. In fact, barring a few slight hints at evolution in songwriting (and I stress the word “slight”), this is an outright continuation of said band under a different name.

One would rightly speculate that the newfound drive found in the membership here that brought “Made Of Iron” to a very small audience all those years ago has a lot to do with the recent success of several retro-NWOBHM sounding bands like 3 Inches Of Blood and White Wizzard. However, where the influences found in those bands is a bit more varied and multifaceted, the story here is a good bit plainer, as was the case before. The older sound heard out of Made Of Iron was lodged pretty comfortably between the “Piece Of Mind” and “Powerslave” era of Iron Maiden exclusively, while the character of “When Eternity Ends” takes a similar approach alongside a smattering of atmospheric keyboard elements imported from Manowar’s and Judas Priest’s Swedish followers of all things true metal Dream Evil and Hammerfall.

This is by no means a power metal album in the speedy; Helloween infused sense; but more a coasting at slow tempo or galloping at higher tempos approach that was heavily heard on Maiden’s “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”. Occasionally the riff work shows some signs of speed metal influence on the epic closer “Heaven Under Siege”, but largely the format is more of a pre-speed metal, 1983 format with a denser and heavier production job. Vocalist Jim Over is the strongest deviation from the Maiden tribute band sound as his voice hearkens back towards a classic, mid 80s German sound as heard on early Grave Digger and Angel Dust albums, but literally everything else going on around him might as well have been written at the height of England’s metallic 80s era. In fact, things go into full out homage mode on “In The Heart Of The Iron Maiden” where a principle guitar theme dangerously similar to “The Evil That Men Do” recurs frequently, among a host of other comparable elements such as atmospheric keyboard additives and galloping power chords.

While the upgraded production sound and slightly more varied format definitely does this album a lot of good, it still suffers from the lack of true staying power that typified the former incarnation’s lone offering “Made Of Iron”. The format here is really obvious in its influences and doesn’t deviate much from existing formulas, the lyrical theme of wars in the incorporeal realms of heaven and hell are realized in the most cliché way possible, and overall things are played just a tiny bit too safe. Yet on the other hand, given that Iron Maiden hasn’t written an album like this in over 20 years, someone else ought to be, and why not a group of rabid fanboys from the North Rhine area.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on September 27, 2012.