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Excellent studio debut. - 95%

hells_unicorn, October 4th, 2006

One of the first things that people should understand about this band before labeling them as "Helloween" or "Running Wild" clones is the era and the location they came out of. 1998 was the very beginning of the rebirt of metal. With the exception of bands such as Blind Guardian, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Nocturnal Rites, Iron Savior, and a couple others this genre was not off the ground yet. It should also be noted that Denmark has not been quite as prolific a country when it comes to Metal music as such places as England, Germany, and Finland.

"Thunderstorm" came out in the midst of an explosion of new acts such as Heavenly, Freedom Call, Lost Horizon, and several others. In the face of such competition, it is nearly impossible not to be overshadowed, but ironically I think that in many ways this album held it's own even amongst such odds. We have a healthy amount of strong songs, and even a handful of classics that I would dub essential listening for power metal fans.

Martin Steene's vocals are pretty much the staple of the band, as he is capable of both the high end wails required of the power metal genre, and also able to get the low grunting sounds associated with Death and Thrash metal. This album sees him pretty much sticking to the higher stuff, although later releases would see a more varied approach. Kristian Martinsen also holds his own on several guitar solos, and gives the band a slight edge over some others in the lead guitar department.

The overall format of this album is that of a collection of short stories set to music, all of them having the recurring theme of Viking warriors and glory on the battle field. If there is any flaw in the structure, it is that all of the individual songs are so well constructed that it is difficult to pick a favorite.

The production on this release is a bit rough, mostly due to a lack of polish on the drum tracks, which is not a flaw that is often to be found on Tommy Hansen's work. Keyboard tracks and extra vocal parts are used sparingly to complement what is clearly a guitar riff and vocal dominated brand of power metal.

Highlights on this album include "The Final Crusade", "Rise of the Rainbow", the title track, "Behind the Mirror" and "Glory to the King". All of these songs contain extremely catchy and powerful choruses that are quite easy to sing along with and will get stuck in your head quickly. "Rise of the Rainbow" is my pick for the best track on here, as it contains a very innovative little hard rock interlude before Martinsen rips into one monster of a guitar solo.

One track on here that is a bit of an outlier is "Angel of Light", the lone ballad on this release. It sounds so cliche 80s glam rock that you almost think that it's a cover of either a Faster Pussycat or Cinderella ballad. Not a bad song, but definately out of place amongst all the other amazingly fast and heavy metal tracks on here.

In conclusion, this is Iron Fire's finest hour as a band, as unfortunately they released probably one of the worst albums of 2002 as a follow up and were subsequently dropped by their label. Although he lost his entire group of original bandmates, Martin Steene was able to pick up the pieces and claw his way back into prominence after 3 years of hard work while not making music with his other band "Force of Evil". This is highly recommended to fans of Helloween style power metal.