Ironflame are back! They have not been away for long though, since Andrew D’Cagna (involved in a ton of projects and bands, past and present) is in non-stop mode, delivering the band’s 3rd album in less than 4 years since their debut. Moreover, he is responsible for everything (apart from the lead guitar parts) making this a hyper prolific, one-man, do-it-all modern power metal operation.
For listeners of the first two albums, there’s no surprises here as you know exactly what you are going to get. Surging, anthemic, up-tempo epic metal to the core. “Gates of Evermore” kicks of this record in full speed epic/power metal fashion, reminiscent of many German and Italian bands that dominated the genre a couple of decades ago (think of Freedom Call, or even early Rhapsody). D’Cagna’s voice feels like a mix of Ralf Scheepers (of Gamma Ray/Primal Fear fame) and the great Ronnie James Dio, never soaring too high but always delivering with acute strength and great theatricality, needed in this sonic battlefield of swords and chains, most evident in pure anthemic blitzes like “Blood Red Cross” and “On Ashen Wings”.
The greatest parts of this record however come at a slower paced, classic mid-tempo feel numbers like “Graves of Thunder” and the album’s best “Grace and Valor”. There are beautifully crafted choruses and amazing twin lead guitar work, evoking great American bands like Virgin Steele, Chicago’s High Spirits, and undoubtedly USA’s most underrated hard and heavy heroes, Riot. The album closes in an unusual hard rock-ish, sad and melancholic feel with “Night Queen”, blinking the eye towards their debut album’s closer “Shadow Queen” – continuing the saga, if you will.
The only misstep in this collection of songs is unfortunately not the songs themselves but, at certain moments, the production quality. In slower songs, when things can be heard more clearly, there seems to be a lack of warmth and genuineness. This is very evident, for example, in the part around the middle of the “Seekers of the Blade” song, where the crash cymbal sounds very bland and almost fake, taking away from the feeling of an otherwise great tune.
Make no mistake, this is no studio project, Ironflame have already toured and performed as a 5-piece in several high-profile festivals like Legions of Metal in the US and Keep it True in Germany. So keep an eye open for their following endeavors, as this is not one band you want to miss live. It most surely won’t be long till their next strike.
Album rating: 78/100
Favorite track: “Grace and Valor”