Iron Fire - Voyage of the Damned
Napalm Records
Heavy Atmospheric Power Metal
13 songs ()
Release year: 2012
Official website, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Chris
Surprise of the month

Danish Power Metallers Iron Fire are back with their seventh album. Described by the band as the pentacle of their career to date (shocker :) ). However it is quickly apparent that the album is quite the departure from their typical brand of Power Metal. I for one wasn't really convinced with the change of style at first, since debut album Thunderstorm and To The Grave being two of my favorite Power Metal albums, with the former being at least as strong (if not better) than Hammerfall's two first albums. I like Dragons, I like Fantasy, and I don't care if there is cheese in there. Fortunately I like Sci-Fi as well (which is the subject and definite mood of this album). However I found that To The Grave was a great album that brought the old and mixed it with the new in the best of fashion. So is Voyage of the Damned a big departure from what could be considered typical Fantasy Power Metal ?

In one word : yes ! After a very dark and mysterious intro, the opener could be a little misleading as to what to expect from the album. As it's a very fast and powerful song like the band have used to deliver as album openers. It's a great song, very melodic,epic, but while being a true Iron Fire opener, we can already hear the not so subtle changes to come in the band's sound. Though it will get more apparent as the album progresses. The rhythm section seems stronger and tighter, more heavier overall. Martin's vocals are the best he delivered to date, no doubts about that, and he gets better with each album (he's one of my favorite vocalist now) ! Overall the first song still breathes Iron Fire like we know them before, just heavier and with a darker spin (probably helped with the effects used on some of the vocals and the sparse growl back vocals). The next song drastically changes the tone and removes any remnants of "happy" that could still be barely felt during the opener song. With a small yet ultra atmospheric and moody intro, the sound now seems focused on delivering strong, square cubic riffing and heavy hooks, and Taken, is definitely showing a heavier Iron Fire, which seems to prefer concentrating on mid-tempo songs than their usual fast paced tunes. The arrangements are also quite a departure from what we knew from the band until now, keyboards (reminiscent of Ayreon) are now very present and a strong part of the songs, highlighting the heavier sound with very atmospheric and original tones. There is no doubt that Iron Fire wants to make a strong statement with Voyage of the Damned, they want to detach themselves from this Hammerfall -like cliché that probably haunts them from day one, and while I can understand and respect the choice, I'm not entirely convinced that this is the best move for the band (at least it's too early for me to tell). I can see many fans being bothered with this direction, yet I can see many new ones embracing this new stronger and heavier sound. At first I thought I'd be bothered too, but multiple repeats (Iron Fire can be catchy but they require multiple repeats to really get assimilated) the album really grew on me and I find it to be their best album after the untouchable Thunderstorm as well as To The Grave. There's no doubt it's a different offering from these two albums though. In fact the last band who made quite a similar change was Nocturnal Rites, with The Sacred Talisman being their last happy fantasy metal, replaced with a darker, moodier and definitely heavier Afterlife. At first I wasn't sure about their change either, but today, I'm glad they did it and almost never listen to the softer fantasy albums anymore. So will I think the same of Iron Fire in 3-4 albums from now ? Maybe... for now I must admit that the daunting atmosphere in Voyage of the Damned has me captivated. The album definitely sounds fresh, original and the heavier side of the band works very well. There are some absolutely fantastic songs in this album, like Leviathan (my personal favorite), The Final Odyssey (a very atmospheric, almost space floating tune), the epic 10 minutes Voyage of the Damned, Ten Years in Space, Dreams of the Dead Moon and of course the magnificent lightning fast opener Enter Oblivion OJ-666. There are also fillers, the most notable one being the last track, Warmaster of Chaos who is a more than forgettable Bonus Track. It's not that it's a bad song per say, but I think Iron Fire did that song 2-3 times already...

In the end Iron Fire has matured and evolved, and in doing so they have shed their typical Power Metal skin for a heavier one. Is it for the best ? I cannot say as I was a firm believer that they were on the absolute perfect track with To The Grave, but then Metalmorphosized was definitely a weaker offering (probably because it was rushed and contained rehearsed material)... and while I still liked it (again it required multiple listen but then all Iron Fire albums do), I must admit I quickly forgot about it after purchase, and it's been taking dust ever since (while I regularly return to both To the Grave and Thunderstorm). Also it's horrible cover art still haunts me when the word Metalmorphosized hits my mind. Fortunately the artwork for Voyage of the Damned is absolutely breathtaking and accentuates the bands' sound departure in a very visual way... a bulls eye cover art for this album. People looking for a more heavier blend of Power Metal, with no cheese, and definitely more atmospheric vibe, might be pleasantly surprised. So if you like your Power Metal Heavy, Dark and moody, then this album is sure to be both a surprise and please you. If you were hoping for the next level of dragon slaying Power Metal with a healthy side of cheese then you might find yourself in a pickle, but I would still highly encourage you to give this new Iron Fire album a try (keep in mind it takes a minimum of 5 spins to really appreciate ANY Iron Fire albums... oh and BTW I'm not even remotely interested in your opinion if you don't listen to it at least that many times !), it's not every day a band tries to change their style so drastically, and I must hand it to them, they did it very well. Only time will tell if I prefer them slaying dragons or flying through space...

Killing Songs :
Enter Oblivion OJ-666, Leviathan, The Final Odyssey, Voyage of the Damned, Ten Years in Space & Dreams of the Dead Moon.
Chris quoted 85 / 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 - Metalmorphosized reviewed by Jake and quoted 55 / 100
Iron Fire - To The Grave reviewed by Chris and quoted 94 / 100
Iron Fire - Blade Of Triumph reviewed by Chris and quoted 74 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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