There’s power metal, and then there’s metal with power. Taking a break from his various other projects Andrew D’Cagna created Ironflame as an epic heavy metal outlet that took the melody and power of the bands he loved from the 80s and turbo injected it into a modern speed force. Coming out a few weeks earlier than its physical incarnations, new album Tales of Splendor and Sorrow hit all the spots the debut did, crafting memorable hooks and soaring vocals in a tight, righteous package.
Classic Maiden and Helloween abound on tracks like “Hands of Fate,” “Bringer of Fire” and “The Contract.” You have all the galloping guitars, ringing power chords, harmony leads and vocals, and ripping solos you could ask for. If I’m being somewhat general in my praise it’s because the music is such that it’s either going to stir you or not – in that regard D’Cagna’s is completely unapologetic in the pure, unfiltered metal coming through. There’s no attempt to incorporate more modern, “acceptable” metal into the mix, no irony, and no compromise.
Originally conceived as an EP covering various themes under the guise of writing about Greco-Roman mythology, the album slowly expanded to a full length with additional songs tackling more modern issues of humanity. Tales of Splendor and Sorrow never feels cobbled together, though. Hitting the second half of the album, late tracks like the mid-paced rocker “Eyes of the Beast,” and the spirited “Vengeance Rising” feel timeless in their execution, while closer “Our Great Defender” seals the fact that Ironflame are bringing epic traditional metal on a level few bands are achieving. It’s not precisely power metal, but there’s no denying the power behind the music.
Tales of Splendor and Sorrow is available September 29 digitally and self released on vinyl from Bandcamp and on CD from Divebomb Records. For more information on Ironflame check out their Facebook page.
September Quick Hits
Ethernity – The Human Race Extinction: A little bit djenty, a little bit prog, but more than anything else your run of the mill progressive power metal like Symphony X but not as memorable. I dig the vocals of Julie Colin, but this third full length outing from the Belgian outfit suffers from that tired production that plagues so many bands doing this music, leaving what interesting moments the album has like the title track or “Prototype” buried in an uninteresting wash of sound.
Manimal – Purgatorio: I’m not going to hold it against these dudes that the band isn’t a tribute to the show I watched religiously as a kid. Instead, this is heavy/power metal out of Sweden with a serious Judas Priest hard on music-wise. Opener “Black Plague” is going to seriously remind you riff-wise at times of “Painkiller” and that’s perfectly okay. I dig this, and my guess if you like the steel you will, too.
Immortal Guardian – Age of Revolution: Age of Revolution is the sound of a band going “all in” on the music they want to make. I went through a lot of power metal this month trying to find things that spoke to me (the less said about Arcane Tales and Shadow of Mercy the better) but within the first minute of Immortal Guardian’s debut I was hooked. The vocals remind me of classic Heir Apparent in the more histrionic moments, and the music goes all over the map combining progressive power metal, hard rock chops, and ridiculous Dragonforce levels of musicianship, but with a better focus on utilizing their chops in service to the songs. This is killer, and essential power metal for 2018
Until next time, keep it heavy, and let us know what we should be looking out for in October!