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My Ire Is My Armor - 83%

LickMyOrangeBallsHalfling, January 12th, 2021

This is one of those albums where the cover really sums it all up, which is to say that it's the auditory equivalent of a heavily muscled, loincloth-clad man, mowing down rows of enemies with a sword, relishing in battle, victory, and, true to the Frazetta-esque style, women with big butts. "The Armor of Ire" distills that vibe into some rousing epic metal, a bit on the shorter side for the genre, but still thrilling.

Like most epic heavy metal, there's a big emphasis on storytelling here. While he does draw from existing fiction for his lyrics, Jason Tarpey goes beyond the usual standard of lyricism for the genre, and he even delves into a self-created universe on "I Am The Hammer." Even on the songs that are based on existing fiction, the lyrics are still great and enthralling. As for his skills as a singer, he draws from the nasally tradition of the late great Mark Shelton. I'll admit that his voice can be a little monotonous at times, but overall it's a good fit for the music, and he does his job well. The music is where this album really shines. It boasts a fuzzy yet massive guitar sound, it actually kind of reminds me of a stoner metal album in terms of tone. Most of the songs on here are fairly mid-paced, but althought that might be a weakness for other bands, it's at that speed where they shine. "The Last King of Pictdom" is one of my favorites on here, just riff after riff of goodness. The fastest that the album really gets is the title track, which also happens to be one of my favorites.

So what's the problem? Well, it's just too short for an album like this. Not counting the two instrumental tracks, which are pretty inconsequential and unnecessary, and not counting the minute of ambient noise at the beginning of "I Am The Hammer," there's less than a half hour of material here, which might work for a hardcore album, but is pretty disappointing for the kind of music that Eternal Champion make. I think it would have really benefited from another song or two. But I guess it might be better to have too little music than to have filler songs that don't live up to the standard of the rest of the album.

Can’t really go wrong with Texas - 86%

Brexaul, October 22nd, 2020
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, No Remorse Records

Straight out of Texas, the birthplace of top-class U.S. power metal and home of pro-gun enthusiasts, these sword wielding barbarians unleashed their debut album in 2016, after some very loud underground activity. The album was very well received and lots of noise was generated around the band’s name, many times accompanied with extremely flattering (or exaggerated, take your pick) comments about how they single handedly revitalized the stale old-school heavy metal sound.

It is true that Eternal Champion is a band, largely responsible for the rekindling of the flame of -as many like to call it- true heavy metal. Their debut came at a time that good releases were the exception, rather than the rule and they gave a breath of fresh air to the beloved genre. Backed up by a very nice cover courtesy of the great Adam Burke (also responsible for many other masterpieces like Vektor’s Terminal Redux), the band manages to sound professional, convincing and with enough gravitas and variety in their songwriting. The approach to the sound quality is also very interesting, as they manage to incorporate the excessive reverb into their identity which helps maintain a cohesive and “epic” atmosphere throughout the album.

Jason Tarpley’s trademark voice paint the picture of an age long gone by confidently proclaiming “I am the Hammer” and set in motion a very entertaining heavy metal journey accompanied by the guards of Lourn and the riders of Tarsul. The lyrical prowess of Jason shines throughout the album with many of his short stories taking flesh in the songs. The whole band sounds like a well-oiled machine, as they shape the musical landscape of a journey through the 8 tracks of the album, expertly balancing between riff-driven compositions that while they are not always original, manage to stay fresh and interesting for the majority of the experience.

But is the album without flaws? Not really, but the flaws aren’t nearly as glaringly obvious as the strong points here. The main issue is that “Armor of Ire” is fairly short without even taking into account that 2 of the songs included are instrumentals, so the whole experience ultimately feels crippled. The album would surely benefit from the inclusion of one of their demo songs but the overall quality triumphs over the lack of quantity. One could also argue that the band doesn’t really offer anything groundbreaking or new, but “Armor of Ire” is full of passion and manages to be a very solid debut, worthy of the great albums of the past.

Many new bands try to copy what Eternal Champion did here and that speaks volumes on how influential this album already is. Let us hope they can surpass it with the new album that is coming soon!

Standout tracks: I Am The Hammer, The Armor of Ire

The New Generation - 93%

Marcohateshipsters, December 21st, 2018

Fads come and go and with any scene, metal is just as susceptible to this phenomenon as any other music genre. If you look back a decade ago, “re-thrash” was all the rage and that has since died down. Looking at what’s going on now, it’s pretty clear that there has been a rising interest in classic heavy metal. There have been quite a few new bands that have grabbed my attention, but precious few have done so as profoundly as Eternal Champion.

I first came across Eternal Champion with the release of their 2013 demo, The Last King of Pictdom. I was so damn excited – here was a young band playing a mix of epic heavy metal and US power metal, easily my two favorite sub-genres! Eternal Champion’s sound is deeply rooted in that American epic metal scene, taking heavy influence from Manilla Road, Omen, early Manowar, and Brocas Helm. There weren’t too many new bands playing this historically underappreciated style so it was really refreshing to see. Fast forward just a few years later and The Armor of Ire was released to an overwhelmingly positive response that propelled Eternal Champion to the front of the scene.

The reason that The Armor of Ire has received so much attention is because it demonstrates all the hallmarks of a quality band. The entire package is here – killer riffs, flawless production, a captivating aesthetic, well crafted lyrics, and a genuine passion that radiates from the music. The songs are relatively straight forward and there’s nothing exceedingly fancy or complex on this album, but that’s the beauty of it. The album opener “I am the Hammer” sets the mood with a slow ambient introduction before the pounding of war drums begins and launches us on our epic metal crusade. It’s a mid-paced, anthem-worthy song reminiscent of the classic Manowar– epics we all know and love. The title track follows and provides a strong contrast to the opener with its fast paced, speed metal oriented riffs. Together these two songs form what is in my opinion the strongest 1-2 punch this side of the millennium. The rest of the songs don’t quite live up to the massive opening, but they’re still excellent and lie somewhere in the middle of those two in terms of pacing. A key component that ties everything together so nicely is the masterful production by Arthur Rizk (also the album’s bassist and drummer).

Rizk is a wizard. I just don’t know how he manages to work his magic every time with every band he touches. The mixing and mastering on The Armor of Ire is so well done that you really won’t find many albums with a production this effective. It gives every instrument the proper amount of room to breathe while not overwhelming the listener. The drum tone is just perfect and avoids the pitfall of an overly aggressive snare that many metal bands seem to find themselves in. The very subtle addition and layering of keyboards is tastefully executed and it just adds that extra little bit of spice to the album – these small touches help to make The Armor of Ire as strong as it is. It works to bring out the very best of the band and in particular it elevates and accents the vocals.

Jason Tarpey isn’t a classic vocalist. You won’t find the insane range and control of Rob Halford or the beautiful, soaring vocals of someone like Crimson Glory’s Midnight. He also isn’t overly aggressive and embellished like many of his contemporaries. What we get with Tarpey instead is tempered, but powerful storytelling. His vocals lie somewhere between the sage like crooning of Manilla Road’s Mark Shelton and the gruff, pack-a-day, warrior tone of Omen’s J.D. Kimball. What really sets Jason apart isn’t his vocal prowess, but rather his ability to craft an original story and build a mythos through the music.

The Armor of Ire is strong and nigh impenetrable, but even a record with as many strengths as this one has its flaws. Ambience has its place even in metal – it can be a powerful tool to set the stage and establish a mood, but in this case it’s the armor’s weakness. The album clocks in at thirty-four minutes total and there are two instrumentals tracks, “Blood Ice” and “Shade Gate”, that together make up five minutes. “I Am the Hammer” opens up the album with a one minute ambient introduction and even “The Armor of Ire” and “Invoker” start with short instrumental or ambient sections. This means that there are roughly six to seven minutes of pure acoustic instrumentals and ambient intros/outros. In a vacuum, these intros and outros are absolutely effective – I still get chills every time I hear the buildup for “I Am the Hammer”. However, when you use them so frequently it takes away from the impact of the album and breaks the immersion. Eternal Champion can certainly riff so I would’ve loved to have several bangers in a row without the instrumental sections. When you consider the vinyl format though, the album layout starts to make more sense.

You have an “A” side and “B” side with vinyl and the fact that you have to get up and flip the record makes it an inherently different listening experience than other forms of media. When you look at the instrumental portions of The Armor of Ire through this lens, it becomes clearer what the band was going for. “I Am the Hammer” sets the mood for the entire album with its triumphant tone and “Blood Ice” helps to ease us into the second act while “Shade Gate” is our curtain call. However, when you factor in the fact that “The Last King of Pictdom” is a re-recorded version of a demo song, we’re really only left with around twenty-three minutes of new, original riffs. What it all boils down to for me is the fact that there isn’t quite enough. I think all this would have worked more effectively with just one or two more tracks on the album. With all that said, it’s only a minor issue for me in the grand scheme of things and this is still an excellent album. I’ve listened to The Armor of Ire countless times and it’s very clear that Eternal Champion have struck a chord with me as well as many others.

I don’t access a band’s music by their size or impact, but it’s worth noting that Eternal Champion have joined right alongside Visigoth as part of a new generation of gateway drugs. Since the release of Eternal Champion’s debut, they’ve been propelled into a spotlight that reaches far beyond a typical US power or epic heavy metal band. They are ambassadors for the genre and for this I cannot thank them enough. I’ve used Eternal Champion as a reference point for getting people into bands like Manilla Road or USPM countless times now. The Armor of Ire has made people a lot more excited and willing to try out my favorite micro-genres. This revitalization of interest in turn has made it so much easier to share my passions with you all and that to me is awesome!

Eternal Champion live up to their name – they’ve created something that is timeless. The Armor of Ire is a powerful, but new age testament to the past that has cemented Eternal Champion’s place as torchbearers of the new generation. I’m still not over just how well packaged this album truly is, time and time again I’ve revisited it and the magic is still there. The Armor of Ire is a modern classic and I do not use that term lightly.

Album Rating: 93/100

Favorite Track: I Am the Hammer

Originally written for RideIntoGlory.com

True Metal - 90%

Wacke, June 23rd, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, 12" vinyl, No Remorse Records (Limited edition)

Eternal Champion is a rather new band within the NWoTHM (New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal) movement that's currently going strong worldwide. Having previously released a demo and short EP, these fierce young metal warriors unleashed their debut The Armor of Ire in 2016. I personally stumbled across these guys during a long night of some good old YouTube browsing. I was on the hunt for some new old school-inspired metal and saw this album cover, which almost looked too promising to be true. Lo and behold, the music was an instant punch to the face of bloody chains, warhammers, swords and whatever else they seemingly used to forge this craft.

The album's opening track, "I Am The Hammer", is an immensive force of fierceness and a perfect introduction of what's about to come. The band's sound immediately draws my mind to old school gods such as Heavy Load, Manilla Road and Brocas Helm. Perhaps a tad bit of Omen in there as well. Needless to say, it's a very grandeur and heavy sound which sounds just as good as the classics from back in the day. As the title-track follows we are also presented with a more keyboard-atmospheric sound which really just further enhances the epicness of the music. It's something that could've come off of Diamond Head's Canterbury album, if that one had been somewhat heavier. Other tracks such as "The Invoker" and "Sing A Last Song of Valdese" showcase a slightly more thrash-oriented riffing style as well.

Eternal Champion is at first glance perhaps most noticable for consisting of some already established underground artists. We've got Jason Tarpey on vocals who previously was in the hardcore/crossover act Iron Age. We also have Blake Ibanez from the up-and-coming thrash/crossover masters Power Trip, as well as Arthur Rizk from Sumerlands and War Hungry. Arthur Rizk is also known for his vast work in production duties for a lot of bands these days, and this record is also handled by his magic hands. The guy's a really promising audio engineer and I enjoy a lot of the albums he's worked on. The only downside is the mastering which is too loud. Seeing as it's a common industry standard these days, however, it's nothing surprising.

Musically this album is nothing too over-the-top. Most of the instrumentation is quite average but works perfectly for this music, which is the band's strong suit after all. The lyrics, however, are the real deal here. Say what you will about bands such as Manowar or even Iron Maiden in some cases; their lyrics can sometimes be kind of (too) cheesy. Eternal Champion on the other hand manages to create a great style of original storytelling which feels like watching old medieval fantasy movies. They create their own epic story with names, places and whatnot, for which we even get a fictional map on the vinyl record's insert.

In a time where trend-hopping shit bands have prevailed since the better part for the last 20-25 years, Eternal Champion comes across as a breath of fresh air. While perhaps not being very original at what they do, they're definitely graced with a unique touch to their sound. The Armor of Ire is nothing but a modern classic of its genre and I am certain these guys will be regarded as one of the saviours of metal in future years to come. They've got powerful songs, epic lyrics and great melancholic yet commanding vocals to drive them forth. Basically a band of the same caliber such as all the classic acts in their heyday.

Eternal Champion is a must for every fan of old school (traditional) heavy metal. In this day and age there are very, very few bands that can top this quality. So do yourselves a favor and hold up a sword in salute to one of the greatest bands out there today. You will not be disappointed!

time stops - 88%

caspian, March 4th, 2017

Eternal Champion aren't a perfect band- probably only "good" at the end of the day- but all up there's two things that put this over 99% of your modern trad heavy metal bands: the vocals and production. Like a car with bad sound system but a great air con and a refridgerated center console, something you can happily ignore flaws if the pros are great.

Essentially, Armor of Ire comes across as only half finished- many of the songs tend to finish before they should. There's perhaps 3 absolute bangers in the album, 3 tunes they really should've spent more time on (Invoker being a particularly blue balled, "almost there" example) and 2 utterly pointless interludes- not a great record for a full length. The music- pretty solid, pretty catchy; lots of Manilla Road, particularly Mystification, and USPM bands I've never really bothered too much with (Can I say Jag Panzer? why not), a touch of Priest's Painkiller with a pinch of melodic thrash. There's definitely some Metallica. You've likely heard most of these ideas before.

Given that description you'd probably say "why not just listen to Visigoth or Sumerlands for your modern stuff that sounds old"... fair enough. But I just really dig the vocals. Eschewing a operatic approach, it comes across as quite ghostly, ethereal, disembodied, etc etc, particularly on the fantastic title track. The dude probably has a range that's less than one octave, but it's fine, he knows how to use it.

When combined with the huge sounding, reverb heavy but still kinda crispy production, it has this effect where it's the most immersive, the most atmospheric heavy metal album I've heard in a long long time. Put it on, get transported to some desolate land where high magic is hurled upon barbarian hordes, where blood and steel rule the day and where a ghost reports the events in a very limited tenor, something like that. I kinda liken it to Summoning, not in a strictly musical sense but in the way that you get sucked into the album and when the album closes you wonder where the last fourty odd minutes have gone. Time stops for a while as the music fills your space, and you emerge blinking furiously at the end, wondering what the hell happened.

Anyway, not perfect, and these guys could get some songwriting tips from the aforementioned Visigoth in particular as the ideas rarely get developed to their full potential. Nonetheless I've heard this about a million times; I'm quite amazed I haven't crashed my car whilst listening to this. Worth giving it a try, just don't operate heavy machinery when playing it.

The ice isn't as much protection as it should - 84%

slayrrr666, January 4th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, No Remorse Records

Formed just in 2012, Texas-based epic heavy metallers Eternal Champion quickly took on the tone and feel of the classic heavy metal sound from the 80s which helps to tie in their connection to Michael Moorcock's high fantasy series of the same name. With the album being the first recorded output of third guitarist Nujon Powers, the group finally prepares its debut full-length September 27, 2016 on No Remorse Records.

There’s not a whole lot about this one as immediately from the start, the band is clearly well-suited for their brand of old-school worshipping of traditionally-minded epic heavy metal. There’s plenty of beefy, sturdy trad-influenced riff-work at play here with the swirling melodic rhythms that gallop along at quite a steady pace here with the album’s preference for the bouncy mid-tempo race. This has the effective quality of leaving it feeling warm and quite luscious which is quite a usual ploy in this genre that manages to effectively evoke the melodic aesthetics from that style as it’s so familiar for the most part that there’s little doubt about its influences being derived wholeheartedly along the way. That leads into the main feature problem about this one as the wholly simplistic manner of the rhythms that it makes for way too close a tie-in to the old-school scene without really giving it an identity of its own. This comes off with way too much of a close-minded feel of the 80s which is so based on this style that there’s not a whole lot of room for this to go, and while it may have quite an effective touch here this does become an issue, though this one has a bit of a free pass being a debut.

Being quite a simplistic and rather one-note style of old-school attack does get this one into trouble at times, but there’s little denying the energy and enthusiasm that’s present in here which does quite a lot to overcome these flaws and makes for quite a worthwhile effort for those that aren’t hung up on these issues who are aficionados of this epic-tinged traditional metal.

Eternal Champion - The Armor Of Ire - 79%

Silicon Messiah, November 19th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, No Remorse Records

The Armor Of Ire is one of the most interesting debuts of this year. The warrior on the cover, along with band name Eternal Champion clearly says that this band is the illegitimate love child of Joey DeMaio and Conan the Barbarian. Song titles such as ‘I Am The Hammer’, ‘The Cold Sword’ and the title track enhance this little preconception of mine. But shit, am I wrong. ‘I Am The Hammer’ opens the album, and does so with a witch like atmosphere not heard since Black Sabbath’s ‘Children Of The Grave’. It’s drenched in a retro production – which by rule, I dislike – and an aura of mysticism and genuine feel for Sabbath-esque riffs with a Mercyful Fate like atmosphere.

The imagery still borrows from Manowar, as well as Dio, carrying lyrical themes borrowed from the realms of fantasy. But the similarities with any European power metal band are quickly swept away as Eternal Champion lacks dragons, princesses and Fabio Lione (Angra, ex- Rhapsody Of Fire). The basis, instead, lies in established literature and something undeniably dark, but without satanic undertones.

The definition of the music isn’t entirely easy. There are hints of the Sabbath like riffs, with some gallops care of Maiden and hints of speedier doom metal. The production, as previously mentioned, is retro sounding much like Ghost’s first two albums. It’s misty, hazy and far from crystal clear .flac files that we’re used to. At the first listen or so, this is what keeps me at a distance from Eternal Champion, but the more I listen the more the production seems to enhance the overall feel of the music.

‘Invoker’, borrowing from Lovecraftian mythos, is a monolith, but not in heaviness. It sees Jason Tarpey’s vocals in focus - as opposed to the riff driven approach carried on most of the album - as he drives the story of a man happening upon the ancient Cthulhu cult. His voice is slightly nasal, but fits the feel perfectly, and the mix doesn’t quite do it justice. There are hints of Ozzy in it, but Tarpey has a better way of flowing with the music.

The Armor Of Ire, being a fairly short album, would deserve to have at least two more tracks on it. But the short runtime also means there’s more focus on the material actually on it. Every minute is important to the whole, enhanced by instrumental middle track ‘Black Ice’ which slowly and atmospherically builds to a muffled guitar solo. Some parts may not be as captivating as others - ‘The Last Pictdom’ doesn’t carry as high as the first two tracks which are pretty strong, and it takes until ‘Invoker’ to really pick up again.

However, the entirety is still not hurt by these small deficiencies. It’s a whole that in and of itself feels complete, where the inspirations and the flow develop and grow throughout. In fact, Eternal Champion’s biggest strength may also be their biggest flaw. The atmospheric feel and the aura of dense mysticism takes more than a couple of listens to grasp. At two or three listens, new revelations will be held into the dim light, and the more you let this album embrace you, the more it will. But that takes giving it more than the one first listen.

Standout tracks: I Am The Hammer, Invoker

I am the hammer, they are glowing iron - 85%

past_prologue, November 18th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, No Remorse Records

Hold the line, folks. It’s hammer time! No, we are not reviewing the latest Hammerfall product. I’m taking about a band of Texan traditionalists named Eternal Champion. Their debut album, The Armor of Ire, has been well-received by fans and critics alike (including the indefatigable Fenriz himself). It’s not too difficult to figure out why. On the very first track of the record, lead singer Jason Tarpey defiantly shouts “I am the Hammer” and for once, I am inclined to endorse his imaginary identity. The vocal delivery and instrumental backdrop are just so energetic and convincing. Who can resist the urge to join the melee?

Greatest of captains Robert E. Lee once considered the Texans to be his best soldiers. Some of that old fighting spirit is certainly present on The Armor of Ire. On songs like "The Last King Of Pictdom", the hunger for battle is overwhelming: “Bring forth those who’d conquer . . . no dawn for Roman dogs”. Man, I would not wish to meet this bunch of barbarian bushwhackers. Luckily, the band’s bellicose tendencies are balanced with a narrative flair. The lyrics tell tales of the Eternal Champion (duh!), a fictional character created by English fantasy and science fiction writer Michael Moorcock. In a “multiverse” torn apart by the perennial struggle between the forces of Law and Chaos, our hero is destined to fight for Cosmic Balance. He is often a reluctant leader, however, not always conscious of his higher calling. If you are now thinking about Hegel’s “irony of history”, you are too much a nerd, so the Eternal Champion may arrive and kick you in the face.

Musically, Eternal Champion invites comparison with Sumerlands, another band whose debut came out in the fruitful year of 2016. Some of the similarities in sound can be traced back to Arthur Rizk (Sumerlands’ extraordinary guitarist), who produced both records. In Eternal Champion, he also handles the rhythm section, leaving guitar duties to his buddy John Powers. However, while Sumerlands’ eponymous album exudes ambition thanks to its varied songwriting and subtle aesthetic, The Armor of Ire seems a tad less serious. The song structures are very straightforward and the riffs are anything but sophisticated. One cannot fail to notice the influences of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Savatage and Manilla Road. But in the end, it’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of those simple grooves and melodies, delivered as they are with such energy and passion. And as I mentioned, the authentic vocals of Jason Tarpey really put these Texans over the top. The man snaps like a young Jon Oliva, but he also has a storytelling voice through which he channels his best Mark Shelton. Very convenient, since a warrior’s reputation is never established on the battlefield alone.

Traditional metal has experienced a slow and steady revival during the last decade, especially in the United States. While some bands (like Pharaoh or Mindcage) are exploring the high road of greater musical and lyrical sophistication, others (like Eternal Champion) are taking the low road with their straight-shooting sound. The fact that they are able to do so without succumbing to either stupidity or commercialism is truly admirable, to say the least.

Muscular heavy metal the way you love it - 80%

Vytautas, November 17th, 2016

This American high fantasy inspired band brings back the loincloth wearing, sword wielding hero of old fantasy books, with a woman with big assets clutching his leg. Yes, there’s definitely a reminder on the cover of this new album by Eternal Champion, that reminds you of times when fantasy was mcuh simpler.

The direct inspiration for the bandname is the fantasy of Michael Moorcock, with an entity named the Eternal Champion living through time and ages in the multiverse. It’s the archetype for epic fantasy and its therefor not surprising to hear music akin to Manowar and Sabaton on this debut by the band from Austin ‘The Armor of Ire’.

The sound is akin to a mixture of the pulsing doom riffs you’ll hear in some of the classic heavy metal bands and the soaring, clear articulated vocals of power metal. It’s a specific niche in which Eternal Warrior finds itself, but opener ‘I Am The Hammer’ is made of that legendary stuff you want from a band like this. Catchy, muscular and strong the song immediately takes you into the realm of Eternal Warrior.

Everything sounds like it is from another time and era in heavy metal. The sharp bitten vocals of Jason Tarpey are to me the most typical, offering a mixture between Fish and Joey Dimachio and Eric Adams. The band seems to take the background to the epic vocals, with little story telling through the guitars. They mostly offer the driven sound, that gives it that feel of grandeur.

I’m not putting the name Fish in there without reason, the versatility of the vocals really creates that unique atmosphere that makes me instantly love this band. The track ‘Invoker’ is the best example of that I think, totally expressing what I love about the voice of Tarpey. There’s an upsite to the static natur of the music. Many people who play Dungeons & Dragons or other games featuring high fantasy, may be looking for exactly this record as their soundtrack to glory. It’s repetitive nature in the music makes it great material. On the other hand, it allows the part of the story teller, the bard for their vocalist.

You just got to love this album. If you don’t you’ve never truly understood the charm of sword wielding, muscular macho men, dragons and having women clutching at your legs. To Battle!