IRON KINGDOM "The Blood of Creation"

By Dr. Abner Mality

One of about a jillion bands with IRON in the name, these sword and sorcery enthusiasts hail from Canada and this is their fifth album. No mean feat to get that far in today's metal world. They claim to be disciples of the classic metal greats like PRIEST, MAIDEN and Martin-era SABBATH, as well as power metal mavens like HAMMERFALL, STRATOVARIUS and GAMMA RAY.

It's a solid entry on those terms, with tons of galloping rhythms and intricate twin lead exploration. The vocals of Chris Osterman bring a new dimension to the term "nasal" and are very much an acquired taste. At times, the singing becomes almost feminine, which is ironic, as one of the band's lead guitarists is female and doesn't sing a note. Osterman reminds me of Wade Black, only even more in the higher register. I could handle most of it, but your mileage may vary.

Onto the all important music, they stay true to the classic and power metal style. I don't hear much PRIEST, to be honest, but there's a good deal of MAIDENish guitar work. More obvious to me is the influence from HAMMERFALL, GAMMA RAY and the like. The set piece of the album is the 13 minute plus title track, which actually works pretty well for a song of such length. Not too many bands can equal IRON MAIDEN when it comes to extra long tracks, but IRON KINGDOM does. "In The Grip of Nightmares" and "Queen of the Crystal Throne" are two other cuts that stand out. As you might be able to tell, the band is heavily into fantasy and historical tropes, covering such topics as The Wheel of Time, Prince Elric and Stormbringer and Mesopotamian creation myths. Add points if you're into that.

It's not a blow-away album or anything that will change your life, but "The Blood of Creation" is a satisfying excursion into metal classicism.