“Master of Masters”

By Colonel Angus

I have to admit that as a genre, power metal sometimes bores me to tears.  The mood needs to catch me and the album has to hit the right spot for me to really get into it.  My apathetic view towards power metal in 2020 may have to do with the fact that I was inundated with so many releases from 2005 through 2015 that I was kind of burned out but I will say that there are some albums that still hold up.  One such release was “Black as Death” by IRON MASK and I have to admit, it was the addition of Mark Boals that made me look into this band originally.  That disk was in my player for a long time and I still love “Broken Hero” and revisit that track every so often.  Their next album “Fifth Son of Winterdoom” was not that great and I kind of lost interest in the band and the genre.  Writing reviews helps me to not only discover new bands and music but it also gives me a chance to revisit older bands that I may not have given a proper listen or dismissed them entirely.  I’m glad I was given the chance to listen (and review) this newest record from Dushan Petrossi’s side project as it has somewhat awakened my love for power metal.

Let’s just start off by saying that Petrossi knows his way around a fretboard.  I’m stating that for potential new fans who may not have heard of this guitar virtuoso.  Those of you who have already heard IRON MASK or his day job MAGIC KINGDOM will know that he can give YNGWIE MALMSTEEN a run for his money.  The man can play; we’ll just leave it at that.  My issue is that this record would be a 10 out of 10 if it were not for opener “Never Kiss the Ring” and the pointless “Sagittarius A”.  The other tracks are more traditional metal fare where Petrossi unleashes some of the chunkiest, catchiest, and melodic riffs in the genre.  The IRON MAIDEN-ish “Tree of the World”, “One Against All”, and the title track are my favorites but quite honestly, the rest of them (aside the 2 mentioned above) are all quality metal tunes.  Even the plodding “Mist of Loch Ness” has a nice epic vibe about it and while “A Mother Loved Blue” is a slow ballad, the guitar solo lifts this track out of cheesy power ballad territory.  All in all, solid all the way through when you skip the first tune.

The band have had a stable line-up (aside from the vocal department) since 2011.  The rhythm section of Vassili Moltchanov and Ramy Ali are still lending their talents to IRON MASK and they put in great performances on “Master of Masters” with special mention going to Ali who does some fantastic drumming throughout.  New to the band is vocalist Mike Slembrouck and while his vocals aren’t the most unique, he does possess a great set of pipes.  His performance is quite good and I don’t miss Mark Boals one bit.  As mentioned earlier, Dushan Petrossi knows his instrument and he knows how to write a great tune.  “Master of Masters” is proof that you can be a guitar virtuoso and still manage to write engaging metal music that keep the listener interested past the guitar solos.  After re-listening to “Fifth Son of Winterdoom” again recently, I stand by my original synopsis that it was not IRON MASK’s shining moment.  “Master of Masters” has corrected my opinion of IRON MASK and is definitely more in the right direction.