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Revenge is sweet, and so is this. - 86%

hells_unicorn, April 15th, 2009

After a good 4 years of having his original band being stuck in limbo, Martin Steene had only one thing on his mind after learning the dark ways of the force with Mercyful Fate and King Diamond members in his later project Force Of Evil, and that was “Revenge”. The target of his vengeance were his former self that penned the half-hearted heavy metal mixed with glam rock flop “On The Edge”, and all of the naysayers who declared his brainchild dead to the world and unable to make any sort of comeback. Like all young Vikings not yet card carrying veterans in the fine art of bludgeoning one’s enemies with intrigue, Steene’s retribution is a little overemotional and uneven, but definitely lethal when compared against a host of really poor power metal albums that came out both the year before and early in the year that this was put out.

Apart from Steene, the band that is Iron Fire is a completely different beast here, with a completely new crop of musicians with varying styles from the original incarnation of the band. The general songwriting approach is largely unchanged as the unique sounding front man is still the chief songwriter, but the rest of what is on here is far more aggressive than what was heard before. The epic and “Keepers Part 1” Helloween sound of “Thunderstorm” has been replaced with a much meatier riff set, often conjuring up comparisons to Manowar and early Saxon, while at other times bordering on Speed/Thrash ala Megadeth. The lyrics have also traded in a lot of the fantasy/epic trappings of the old days for something much closer to the angry mixture of warfare and metal worship that the NWOBHM bands, who first inspired this sort of music, held dear.

Right from the intro of the catchy opener “Wings Of Rage”, which sounds like a slightly more melodic version of a late 80s Megadeth riff, a much darker and heavier variant on power metal is established. Other fairly thrash-like moments can be heard on “Mind Machine” and “Break The Spell”, albeit more of the slower tempo kind you’d hear out of the early 90s. The choruses are still catchy to the point of being arena worthy, but what surrounds them is much heavier than usual fare for most non-German power/speed metal of late. There’s some songs with choruses and riffs that reach back to the straight line fast and catchy approach of “Thunderstorm”, such as “Alone In The Dark” and “Whirlwind Of Doom”, but even these songs have a much harder edged feel to them.

There’s a few noticeable standouts that deviate from the new model present here. “Savage Prophecy” has this really light piano intro and epilogue that scream obligatory ballad, but then the thing just erupts into a fit of catchy, down tempo goodness that screams straight up Manowar styled heavy metal glory. “Ice-cold Arion” is something of an oddball ballad, not an overtly dry sounding 80s ballad like “Angel Of Light”, but more of a slightly mechanical sounding take on an Edguy song with a better chorus. The best song on here, which also breaks from the model, is the one song from the “Underworld” demo that Steene put together during the band’s failed resurrection attempt in 2003 “Ironhead”. It’s a bit formulaic and closer to the band’s older sound, but that galloping riff set and those cliché vocals about a biker living wild and free just bring out the inner Judas Priest fan boy in me every time.

If “On The Edge” cost this band any level of credibility among European power metal enthusiasts, this has more than regained it. Steene has a much more technically proficient and experienced set of musicians bring his music to life now, and it shows with the flawless execution of every riff, beat, and elaborate shred solo on here. If you’re not familiar with the band and like the German variant of speed metal from the mid-80s in the model of Running Wild and Grave Digger, this album and their latest “To The Grave” will definitely agree with you.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on April 15, 2009.

Power Metal for those who love it! - 82%

Agonymph, January 16th, 2007

Martin Steene is a man for whom I have nothing but respect. Okay, his band Iron Fire did nothing earth shattering in the past, but he was doing exactly what he wanted at quite a young age and that was creating old-fashioned Heavy Metal. In Force Of Evil, he showed what Mercyful Fate could sound like if they actually had a good singer and when all of his bandmates abandoned Iron Fire, he did exactly what he had to do: he gathered a new lineup around him.

Now, there is 'Revenge', the first product of that lineup. And it need to be said: Steene (also the man who writes all the songs) should be proud of the result! 'Revenge' is the best album of the Danish band yet. Okay, there are some parts that are just too cheesy, but Steene knows how to be cheesy without letting the quality of his songs suffer from that. Unlike Manowar or any of those millions of Helloween-clones.

What is it that makes this album better than ninety percent of all the other Power Metal albums then? Well, first of all, this album contains a lot of variation. 'Metal Messiah' is, while cheesy, an irresistable slow stomper and lots of songs have a - for Power Metal standards - slightly progressive and surprising structure, instead of focusing on 200 BPM double bass frenzies. Besides that, Steene can actually sing and his band is very capable. The perfect recipe for a tasty dish of traditional Metal.

Iron Fire knows how to deliver me an old-fashioned dose of Metallic euphoria, so much is clear when opening track 'Wings Of Rage' decorates my living room for the first time. Blazing vocals, pounding drums and raging guitars. And, inevitably, an incredibly infectious chorus. Listen and smile!

A special mention goes out to 'Ironhead', easily the best Power Metal track I have heard in a long time. The song just breathes the atmosphere of longing for a better world and that sends shivers down my spine. The vocal melodies (those in the verses seem to be inspired by Rhapsody's 'Wisdom Of The Kings') are irresistable and so are Kirk Backarach's beautiful guitar leads. Beware, this song forces you into euphoria and locks you there!

Less successful are the ballads 'Ice Cold Arion' and 'Savage Prophecy'. Though the songs aren't that bad (the heavier parts of the latter are very good actually), there are much better ballads. The "goosebumps level" is never quite reached. Both are much more listenable than the horrible 'Angel Of Light' on the debut album 'Thunderstorm' though!

Highlights include the almost-Thrasher 'Fate Or Fire', the bone crushing closing stomper 'Break The Spell' (great vocals!) and the relatively heavy 'Mind Machine'. The choruses to 'Brotherhood Of The Brave' and 'Alone In The Dark' are a tad annoying, but the other parts of those songs are só good! And why the hell is 'Gates Of Cybertron' only a bonus track on the digipack? It's definitely the best track on the album, apart from 'Ironhead'. Fast, heavy and great leads, in the vocal as well as the guitar department.

Iron Fire will most likely not turn any people into Power Metal with 'Revenge', but people with a heart for this genre, even if only just a little (like yours truly) can buy this album blindly. I'm sure you won't regret it. And to Martin Steene...nothing but deeply meant respect!

A Sweet Revenge For Iron Fire - 92%

Erin_Fox, March 31st, 2006

Over a decade of experience and positive changes in the group’s lineup has refined the sound of Iron Fire, with their latest Napalm record being the band’s most focused outing as of yet. Incorporating driving, chugging guitar rhythms and fleet-footed double kick beats, “IronHead” reflects the Denmark quintet’s affinity for creating German-style, power metal anthems, while during cuts such as “Metal Messiah,” Iron Fire displays a more traditional approach to their songwriting, giving “Revenge” a sense of balance that many bands can’t seem to accomplish. On the latter track, the vocals of Martin Steene (Force Of Evil) are allowed plenty of room to maneuver. The singer displays a noteworthy range and an impressive amount of vocal control, making this track a must-hear for fans of talented vocalization. Another remarkable highlight is the manner in which the group utilizes accents, with each member getting their turn in the spotlight via a vast array of timely accents, poignant lead breaks and adept turnarounds. “Savage Prophecy” resounds as being a standout cut, beginning as a power ballad and developing into a structurally proficient, dramatic rocker. Serving to reintroduce traditional concepts to metal audiences within the framework of power metal, “Revenge” is ultimately a very solid achievement in creating intensely melodic, dramatic heavy metal that’s undoubtedly worthy of major attention.