Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Iron Fate - Cast in Iron (2010)

Attempting to find innovation or bands that can 'one up' the current masters within the confines of power or traditional heavy metal is like trying to kill yourself in a single round of Russian Roulette. Chances are, that bullet is not going to air out your brains and offer you the sweet release you deserve. Iron Fate is a German band, thus arguably originating out of the heartland of this sub-genre, and they've managed to remain on the straight path since their foundation 5 years ago. They put out a demo, shopped it around, and got a deal through Massacre Records. Unfortunately, they're one of those five empty rounds in the chamber, with no projectile force to offer here, and their debut, Cast in Iron is all too quickly forgotten on the road to better listening.

As I've noted, Iron Fate play power metal, but they do not engage in the manner of fast paced, anthemic noodling maintained by bands like Gamma Ray, Helloween, or DragonForce. They are also not some simple clone of Judas Priest, Maiden or Accept. The singer Denis Brosowki's got a fairly distinct voice, clear and penetrating but also fairly constrained. He's got as much of a Biff Byford spin as a Dickinson, Tate, or Dio, and he performs pretty well in both the softer and heavier material the band has written. But he's simply not being backed up by memorable enough music for it all to matter. Most of the songs are extremely simple, chugged or basic chord patterns which remind me a little of Halford's solo albums, or the US band Holy Mother, except just not as catchy. The songs very quickly become torture to listen through, not because they're ever 'bad', but because you just never get the payoff you need from a band like this.

The album cover hints at a little magic, a little mystique as this bizarre construct stretches itself forth from the constraints of the Earth. Ironically, the music offers almost none of this mystery. The guitar riffs groove and meander along without many good hooks; the chords anchored in largely predictable patterns that hardly mete out the level of aggression and energy that the singer's voice deserves. At the best, they pull off a track like "Killer Instinct" where some tolling percussive samples and Heathen-like vocal processing (think "Hypnotized") attempt to distract from the lackluster rhythm guitars. Brosowski soars over "Rage in a Cage" and "Lightning Bolt" with a suitable charisma, but you still can't wait for them to be over. In fact, the first few tracks on this album blow by so unconvincingly that I found nothing at all to grab the attention span until the second half of the album! "War in the Streets" is probably the most powerful track, as the lyric rhythms and bouncing, forward riffs feel the most fluid.

When you're in this market, I cannot stress just how much you need the giant hooks, the incredibly satisfying vocal lines and the feeling of uplifting, esoteric power of classic heavy metal music, culled from decades of trial and error. Iron Fate have the talent in the front, they've got a good production standard with some fairly crushing tones, and they do nothing to really offend the listener, but they simply lack a 'Killer Instinct' of their own. A killer application. Metalium or Primal Fear might occasionally draw a tear in my eye as I cringe from the high pitched air raid siren vocals screaming beautiful melodies off into the night. I might feel my heart pulse unto the precipice of bursting. At their best, they can reduce the listener AND the playing field to mere ashes. With Cast in Iron, it feels more like being walked than hitting that essential home run that will have the traditional 'bangers throwing horns and dashing their brains out with that lovely, final bullet of inspiration.

Verdict: Indifference [5.5/10]


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