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Cast Iron > Leather & Metal > Reviews
Cast Iron - Leather & Metal

"Preacher Of Eeeeeeeeviiiil!" - 79%

CHAIRTHROWER, July 25th, 2017
Written based on this version: Unknown year, Digital, Independent

I'm forever indebted to Earache's 2009 Heavy Metal Killers CD for introducing me to fresh and invigorating newcomers to the budding, ocean spanning "traditional" heavy metal scene which at the time included heavy hitters such as Cauldron, Enforcer, RAM, Hospital Of Death and Celtic Legacy. This fond recollection wouldn't be complete however without mentioning Finland's caustic and raw Cast Iron, a veritable flash in the "pan" considering its sole release, an eye-brow singing brow-beater of a four-track EP titled Leather & Metal (my cup runneth over) originally made as a CD-R in less than 100 copies (with a slightly different cover) to be given for free at the 2008 Keep It True X festival in Germany yet thankfully re-issued with a pressing of 500 CD's under Thunderknights records (with a catalog ID # of THUNDER 001 to boot).

Without question, "Running From The Law" and "Preacher Of Evil" alone rate 100% hands down (which I'll get back to soon enough). Excising severe enough restraint will allow me to firstly (and calmly) touch base on Leather & Metal's spastically amped opener "Out From Hell" and its fierce gas guzzling sidekick/wingman, "Running From The Law", which takes JP's classic take on lawlessness, "Breaking The Law" to a whole new level. The former is somewhat less imposing than its brethren, yet makes sense considering each track is reassuringly longer and more ballistic than its predecessor. It's actually organized by way of purposeful sloppiness i.e the front man/ guitarist's "Aaaaaaaaaa-aah!" accompanied by a most thrash-like riff which makes one feel like they're getting boxed upside the head from every angle by a pugilist with an anvil (or horseshoe) concealed in his glove. You don't hear me complaining! The solo starts off whiny but soon gets into Killers-era Iron Maiden overtures before an unapologetic return to form, ramped up no less.

"Running From The Law" takes the listener on a pedal-to-the-metal, high speed police chase complete with hairpin curves in the form of alternating split string chromatic riff-age (a bit like that wicked riff on the very first level of Doom, the quintessential first person shooter for PC back in the day) with dead-stop, U-Turn like staccato riffing around the 0:45 mark (with an incredibly tight, subtle lead tucked in between for good measure) which is akin to a round-house kick in the throat (repeat formula, and so on). Good times. The frontman sounds especially vitriolic and caustic here, with a bit of desperation and "I don't give a fuck-ism" thrown into the chorus for good measure: "Running from the laaaaaaaaw!". Correct me if I'm wrong but it also sounds like the riffing jumps an entire octave before a singeing and sonorous solo flashes its badge on you. Overall, Leather & Metal - especially its middle tracks - cruises along at a highly inflammatory pace, complete with explosive solos and an unyielding battery which supplies a crushing backdrop like it's life depended on it.

My go-to track - even overtaking the "hard-driving" "Running From The Law" - is without a doubt, you guessed it, "Preacher Of Evil". As if taking lyrical cues from Wolf's "False Preacher" (despite pre-dating it by three years), this is one for the ages:

"A black night, the full moon shining, hazy mist covering all the lands
People gather to hear the mass, of a man who takes the law to his hands
To reveal the lies of a tyrant above who wants to save your souls from hell
And give up your life for a lie, if he exists you can't even tell

Preacher - Preacher of evil
Condemns the holy laws and faith
Preacher - Preacher of evil
Is here to open up Hell's gate"

The incepting unholy verses and "cry me a river" style riffing (as in "hit the road jack!") makes me want to crash a Broadway musical and snatch the mike out of the tenor's hands in order to unleash the fury which resides within. This might have something to do with the fact it sounds like buddy injected a shit load of camphor oil before belting this one out, eyes bugging, veins bulging et al. I'd like to add the guitar tone throughout this affair is strident as hell, as if Cast Iron's axe man plugged directly into a wall socket while ankle deep in sewage (why not?). Unfortunately this comes at the detriment of the bass, which at least is felt rather then completely unheard. The solo to "Preach Of Evil" is especially tense and melodic, and rips like tomorrow'll never come. Some very nice harmonies take place in its second half before a wry return to form and EP closer, the vaguely JP "United"-ish title track. Fret not however as things slowly but surely improve over the course of this classic sounding, five minute romp & stomper. His truly tones it down a little - it is an anthem after all, and besides, he's probably on the verge of collapsing his vocal chords. OK, now I admit the sappy chorus is lame and if it was a cat I wouldn't hesitate to throw it a boot. Thankfully, Leather & Metal, both EP and track ends on a high note thanks to an engaging, fist-pumping bridge and sweetly pummeling drum out-take beneath some swift, spiraling leads both before and after said hokey chorus swings back in full cramping un-glory. (At this point, I can't blame you if you're scrambling to re-play "Running From The Law" and/or "Preach Of Evil". Effectively, these two winners won't wear thin anytime soon, even after almost a decade). One last word on the drumming: while not terrible, at times it sounds like an ape fighting its way of a walk-in freezer...

It's a dang shame Cast Iron split up in '09 before releasing a highly touted full-length debut. I can only imagine how much of a crushing impact it'd have had on the already exploding Scandinavian trad metal scene. Here's to hoping the boys in Hämeenlinna read this and get cracking after such a debilitating "hiatus"...As Steve Grimmett of Grim Reaper would scream, "I want more!"

When cloning, use the best genetic stock available - 70%

autothrall, July 21st, 2010

Had Finland's Cast Iron arrived just a few years later than they did, the time might have been ripe for them to cash in on the new wave of old school heavy/speed metal that is currently trending, led by the excellent Enforcer and followed by a bunch of rather average bands. Cast Iron sound exactly like Running Wild circa 1984-87, and seeing that the legacy of Kasparek is always spreading to new and young audiences, they would have fit right in with every other worship band. The vocals sound almost exactly like Rock'n'Rolf, the song titles like "Preacher of Evil" and "Out from Hell" reek of tribute, and the mix of speed/power material and mid paced rockers creates an identical feel to a Gates of Purgatory, Branded & Exiled or Under Jolly Roger, though the Finns provide a little busier guitar work, only natural after 20+ years of stylistic evolution.

Leather & Metal would be the only Cast Iron release, originally intended as a handout for shows, later released through Thunderknights in an official format. Normally, I would just pass of on such an obvious ripoff, but I have for many years starved for just such a sound, and to that effect the Finns are more than successful. "Out from Hell" opens with a bang, the vocalist shrieking like a harpy (yet another little development on the Germans' original sound) while the guitars rage in a seriously Running Wild chord progression. The chorus is infectious, and if you can't bang your head to this it's unlikely I'll be asking you to prom. "Running from the Law" is more like a "Raw Ride" or some other mid paced track, perfect for chewing a toothpick as you stroll down some city street, wanted by the local authorities but drunk and not giving a fuck. I enjoyed the reverb on the vocals in the verse and melodic guitars in the bridge. "Preacher of Evil" runs a similar course, with slightly better guitars, and the title track is slower and more precise, like a "Beggars Night" or "Land of Ice" from Under Jolly Roger.

You're not here for lyrical brilliance, and Cast Iron offer nothing but generic 1984-worship. In fact, you've got no other motivation to track this EP down unless you simply want more of the same that the superior German band had to offer in that period. Cast Iron do this style well enough, and the raw production of the release is charming, but I'm not sure if they could have thrived with a continued career, unless they expanded upon their sound to incorporate other influences. I would never recommend it above the influence, of course, so if you have the spare pieces of eight and do not own Running Wild's catalogue up to about 1995, you are better off to spend there. But if you rue the day Rock'n'Rolf stopped making killer music (around 1995) and the pirate galley finally jumped the shark, and seek a return to the glorious past, these Finns will welcome your nostalgia with open, spiked armbands to the high seas and mean streets.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Heavy Metal from the Gates to Purgatory! - 82%

Nightlock, May 5th, 2008

So elegantly put by my close Finnish friend Jaakko.

In recent years we’ve seen a great many dare I say “clone” bands take off. We have Germany’s StormWarrior who emulate a more bombastic, Teutonic Walls of Jericho sound, Sweden’s Portrait who are haunting echo away from Circa ’84 era Mercyful Fate and the ton of bands who seem to unsuccessfully claw at hopes of one day sounding like gods Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. The newest addition to these ranks is young Finnish hopefuls Cast Iron who don’t just, take inspiration from Running Wild’s first two hellish outputs but rather (it would seem more appropriate to say) pay homage to them in the most extreme sort of ways.

The four track demo could almost be put seamlessly in between Branded & Exiled and Under Jolly Roger and not raise an eyebrow, Except for a few slight hitches. Maybe the main one being the production, No matter how retro and inspired it sounds with the overflowing amounts of echo and reverb there’s something about digital production that can never sound as bright and refined as an old analogue job.

Musically speaking these guys are every bit just as competent if not more than Running Wild were originally, Certainly more so than any of the demos done before signing Noise Records, But not all bands have humble beginnings. The four songs are all comparable in many ways to Running Wild moments but it’s probably better to comment how the demo shows a slightly lighter shade of the Running Wild sound not featured on the first two albums. Maybe because of vocalist Jori Meriläinen’s more frequent use of high range vocal screams, such as in the chorus’ of Preacher of Evil or Running From the law (Also the highlights from this short demo). Which are a little unlike and more extreme than what Rolf was doing at “the” time. Where’s the intro scream to Out From Hell is a totally Rolf crafted scream almost identical to the intro of Fight The Oppression. No information is available as to who writes which songs and if the lead guitar is shared or solely created by one musician. It’s probably pretty safe to assume in Running Wild fashion both Jori Meriläinen and Antti Salminen throw solos in. They do pretty well considering, lots of twin guitar harmonies akin to what’s found in songs such as Soldiers of Hell and Diabolic Force.

There’s two ways you can look at a project like Cast Iron and this is the point where I will let you decide. Is originality necessary for enjoyment? Or at least partially original (This lacks even that)? Even the picture featured on their website seems intentionally similar to the black & white Running Wild photograph featured on the back of the Gates to Purgatory album. Or are you the type of maniacal fan that was left devastated with the direction chance after Branded & Exiled and lust for more of that very original sound (Even if it’s not from the original source)? I feel obliged to add for the band’s sake I recently read a respected heavy metal philosopher of sorts (from an online metal source I use) comment something along the lines of;

“Don't also most of the really into it HM people eventually pick up instruments and make their own stuff? This is why HM will never die. It encourages hands-on, intimate affection for the form, it is not ‘far away’.”

And although Cast Iron aren’t “original” at all, Their music defiantly has heart and shines with inspiration to the point where these four guys have gone into so much detail to perfect a sound long forgotten and adored by a small cult audience. Defiantly Prisoners of that Time.