Iron Mask - Diabolica
AFM Records
Neoclassical / Power Metal
12 songs (75' 21")
Release year: 2016
AFM Records
Reviewed by Andy

In addition to his primary project of Magic Kingdom, guitarist Dushan Petrossi's got Iron Mask, an exercise in Malmsteen-worship that nevertheless got lukewarm reviews in the past. Their latest, Diabolica, might not be considered substantially superior by some to its predecessors, but its stronger focus on power metal while still leaving touches of neoclassical and symphonic elements in place might spark some interest, and a few of the songs make up for tracks that are limp.

The speed solos are still there and guitar wankery is still alive and well here, but all the soloing is a bit less obtrusive than before. It seems like Diabolica is an attempt at a few new things, and the former Malmsteen bandmates of the last album have meanwhile taken their leave. In the place of Mark Boals is ex-Retrosatan vocalist Diego Valdez, who is a grittier choice than Iron Mask has made before and, when the band tries hard enough, gives the album a tougher, more muscular sound than usual, one that starts out on a good note with I Don't Forget, I Don't Forgive. Something's off about the mix, or perhaps its the lead riff, which is so separated from the melody at times that it sounds like Petrossi's playing to a different song altogether. Nonetheless, Valdez's voice on this one, and on All for Metal, combined with the melodic choruses, results in a sound a lot like what Seventh Avenue used to specialize in: German-style power metal with a strong core of heaviness throughout. I consider that material to be some of the best on here, even though Valdez switches octaves on the chorus of All for Metal for no apparent reason. But the plodding, Dio-style The Rebellion of Lucifer is also quite good, with a crunching rhythm on the verse and harmonized leads playing the vocal melody on the chorus.

Where Iron Mask's output gets sub-par is when it slows down. The title track has some nice lead noodling, but simply isn't all that interesting as a song, and one gets the distinct feeling that this is the sort of thing Petrossi likes the best, and his audience the least. The power-chord-ridden The First and the Last, too, also gets a bit too syrupy, especially on the chorus, and March 666's dragging chorus makes it the weakest song on the album. But the solos are reliably good on all the tracks, what listeners should expect from a band led by a lead guitarist, and if one misses the neoclassical leanings the band has in the past, have no fear, for Cursed in the Devil's Mill provides fifteen and a half minutes of guitar-dominated neoclassical metal. Luckily, it's not all just shredding; sure, there's a lot of indulgence in the soloing, but the song's partitioned by acoustic portions and the whole band shows their instrumental chops here.

Diabolica is decent, medium-quality neoclassical metal that won't blow anyone away but is competently done; the less listenable tracks are in the minority. Yngwie Malmsteen fans, as well as listeners to French and German power metal will probably like this one.

Killing Songs :
I Don't Forgive, I Don't Forget, All For Metal
Andy quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Iron Mask that we have reviewed:
Iron Mask - Fifth Son of Winterdoom reviewed by Jared and quoted 68 / 100
Iron Mask - Shadow of the Red Baron reviewed by Thomas and quoted 79 / 100
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