Iron Fire - To The Grave
Napalm Records
Epic Power Metal
13 songs (59'50)
Release year: 2009
Official website, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Chris
Album of the year

I've been waiting for this moment for 9 years, since the debut album that was such a masterpiece, that everything that came after it was never able to even slightly approach the same level of majesty and epic power spirit that Thunderstorm was ! Well the wait was long and sometime tedious (who said On the Edge ? ;) ), but Iron Fire has resurrected from the grave, so to speak :). Pardon the play with words, but I would have called that album, From The Grave :), it would have been more accurate description right there in the title (on second thought it would be too harsh as the last 2 albums where actually pretty good, even if a bit too inconsistent from time to time).

This album is a masterpiece, and just like the debut, it takes 3-4 listens to completely sink in, but when it does, you're in for a ride you're unlikely to ever forget and you'll be holding a CD you will be listening in the next 20 years if not more. This makes the new Hammerfall feel like one of those microwave meals, when you're hungry it will do the trick, but it will never satisfy you as much as an home cooked or even favorite restaurant's meal, where you know what you're paying for, and you're not likely to repeat the experience too often. Ok that's a weird analogy but you get my drift I'm sure. The album start with in your face Power Metal jewel : The Beast From the Blackness ! Now that's how you start an album, and while the song isn't the best one on the CD, its definitely a killer song. Melodic, Epic, Powerful to the bones, this song is fast and furious. The singing style of Martin Steene is a bit more controlled towards his very usual (though unusual for some) singing style, its pretty much similar to what we know, but when compared to Thunderstorm, its less pronounced and more standard. Some grave/bass background vocals also highlight the epic factor of this song. The second track, Kill For Metal, is also a killer song, and one of my favorites as well. The beginning with the counted intro "story" reminds me a bit of Metallium, but the song itself is pure Iron Fire glory, with a great square riff, great vocal melody and a chorus to die for. The panache is back into Iron Fire's blood, no doubt about that ! Overall the songs are fast, with great guitars and arrangements, and the love or hate vocals. Personally I always LOVED his vocals, I think he's one on a million on a sea of repetitive Power Metal singers, but Martin always had his own singing style from day one, and for that I applaud him. Even if a bit tamed (maybe to be a bit more accessible) on this latest delivery, its still original and awesome. I've been listening to this album non-stop for almost 2 months, nothing else would compare to the sheer power and epic factor of this album during that period. Then I decided to make a pause to not "burn" the album too fast, and also to see if after a bit more than a month pause, if I would still love it just as much. The answer is hell yes ! This is one for the ages as far as I'm concerned. The third song (on the promo, its on the 5th position on the final album) and album titled track To The Grave, is heavy and pounding, with a very simple yet tantalizing chorus that you're not likely to forget any day soon. In order to avoid the 3 page review, I will just fly-by the rest of the album and give you my impressions on what I consider the highlights of this masterpiece : The 4th song on the promo (I think it was moved to position 12 on the album, a weird move, or maybe a smart way to have a much stronger ending than the promo), The Battlefield, is one of my favorite song, from its intro, to the very rhythm based verse until the explosive chorus, that I'm singing all the time, anywhere and everywhere : In the Battlefield, we bleeeeeed !!!! In The Battlefield we diiiiiiiie !!! This is the type of songs that were lacking in the last 2-3 albums, but fortunately they are all here now :). My next favorite is track 7, The Kingdom, a fast beat song, with a pounding rhythm section, and furious guitar attacks of sharp riffs, and a vocal melody that lifts you to the bridge, slowing things down just a bit, until the explosive chorus blows you away in the most majestic of ways ! The Kingdom is Mine ! With an awesome even if short solo. I can't stop singing this chorus over and over again, it blew my mind and still does, every time I listen to this inhuman song. But my absolute favorite track is the ninth one : Hail to Odin ! What a song my friend, its the perfect way to show you that you can do better with less, the song is simple in its structure, square riffs, tantalizing vocal melody, perfect lifting bridge, and a chorus that will forever stay engraved in your mind and have you raising your fist in the sky for no reason ! HAIL, HAIL, HAIL TO ODIN !!!! Simple yet so fraking effective, thumbs up on that song that is for sure to crawl in most if not all of my personal best off compilations. The first time you listen to this song, you might like it, but the by the tenth time, you won't be able to contain your enthusiasm and before you know it you'll raise your fist on the tempo of the chorus, mark my words :). Hail to Odin is almost as good as Metal Victory (except for the riff that is still today my favorite riff of all time on Metal Victory) from the debut album, and these two are definitely my favorite Iron Fire (and Power Metal in general) tracks. That's it for the songs I absolutely had to talk about, but the entire album is flowing perfectly (I still have to get used to the final album tracks order though), and there is not a single boring moment in the entire time. The Limited Edition has a bonus track called Blacksmith of Thunder, which is pretty much on par with the rest of the album, and while I haven't listen to it many times yet (I mostly listened to the voice-over promos for the first month and half), its a great song with a fast tempo and a nice bridge. The chorus, while ok is a bit too square and not melodic enough vocally. Still, its an okay bonus track but not one that would be terribly missing if it wasn't there.

In the end this album is the album that every fan of the debut album has been waiting for, if you loved Thunderstorm, you'll have the impression that this is Thunderstorm II, and if it had been called that way it would have been okay by me :). Even if my quote is higher than the quote on the debut review, Thunderstorm is still Iron Fire's best album, but To the Grave is a close, very close second. Iron Fire are back to their roots and they are back in style, and the song-writing evolved along the way which is never a bad thing. So now I really hope that the next albums will be in the veins of this bombastic power metal delivery, and that we won't have to wait almost another decade to get such high quality material from this band with enormous (though sometimes unfocused) talent. Definitely an album of the year in my book, and if you liked the debut, you cannot miss To The Grave, plain and simple !

Killing Songs :
All but my favorites are : The Beast From The Blackness, Kill For Metal, The Battlefield, The Kingdom and last but not least Hail To Odin !!!

Chris quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Iron Fire that we have reviewed:
Iron Fire - Beyond the Void reviewed by Andy and quoted 82 / 100
Iron Fire - Among the Dead reviewed by Chris and quoted 84 / 100
Iron Fire - Voyage of the Damned reviewed by Chris and quoted 85 / 100
Iron Fire - Metalmorphosized reviewed by Jake and quoted 55 / 100
Iron Fire - Blade Of Triumph reviewed by Chris and quoted 74 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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