Iron Griffin - Curse of the Sky
Gates of Hell Records
Proto Metal
7 songs (30'45")
Release year: 2019
Reviewed by Alex

Saying Oskari Rasanen’s project Iron Griffin plays protometal is correct in more ways than one. Oskari’s main band Mausoleum Gate is classic heavy metal/NWOBHM, and Iron Griffin doesn’t tilt towards any extreme sides either. However, proto pertains to Iron Griffin also because Curse of the Sky is a bit stripped down, more show of ideas than a fully blown piece. Nothing wrong with it, but a self-admitted 2-day lockup in the studio produced a very DIY shoestring production which, in my opinion, hampers complete appreciation for Iron Griffin.

There is a lot of glorious epic riffs and atmosphere on Curse of the Sky, often delivered with deliberate thoughtful tempos (Reign of Thunder, Forgotten Steel). Some other compositions are more energetic, like tremolo driven Dawn of Struggle or jumpy title track. In many a spot I very much wished the sound to be fuller, filled up with more arrangements and layers between the main chords. Muddy, low in the mix drum sound doesn’t help with power or clarity, and other percussion moments are a little off key as well, like rough bell sound in Reign of Thunder.

What rescues Iron Griffin from sound deficiencies are the aforementioned stately yet thinner Conan-like riffs, and of course Maija Tiljander vocals. She is a gem, pushed upfront onto the stage and explored for all her worth. Powerful, stretchy and modulating, Maya manages to deal with all quirky vocal melodies and appears at times both powerful and youthful, less rugged, less metal diva Doro. Maija covers up for a lot of gaps on Iron Griffin and is very effective not only on the epic songs, but also on balladic heroic Lost Legion and melodic romantic To the Path of Glory. She is bound to have a future ahead of her, and people are going to notice her performance on the Curse of the Sky.

Making Iron Griffin into a full band, giving songs more time in the studio would not diminish from the honest appeal of Iron Griffin. Given than Oskari is unlikely to be interested in this approach, Curse of the Sky is going to remain one-off, of interest to dedicated fans and collectors.

Killing Songs :
Title track, To the Path of Glory
Alex quoted 65 / 100
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