Let me be the first to say, Iron Fire have changed my view on power metal for the better. Voyage of the Damned is probably the best metal record I may have ever listened to. The revolving door of band members ceased around 2003 and since then Iron Fire have produced some solid albums; Revenge in 2006, Blade of Triumph in 2007, To the Grave in 2009 and most recently Metalmorphosized in 2010. All decent albums but all very plain and safe metal music. Voyage of the Damned however, tops the lot. Fritz Wagner on drums, Kirk Backarach on Guitar, Martin Lund on bass and the ever-present Martin Sheene on vocals have found a cohesiveness that can be heard in the music.
Voyage of the Damned, has the lot when it comes to power metal. There are stand-out tracks all over this album such as the emotional ballad, The Final Odyssey. As I’ve said though, this album has everything. Pure riffing in the shape of Verge to Collide, Enter Oblivion and With Different Eyes. Then they’ve come up with keyboard blasting and chorus chanting tracks like Leviathan. The Iron Fire boys have also kept it safe with a couple of tracks in Dreams of the Dead Moon, Ten Years in Space and Realm of Madness but that is acceptable given the quality and variation in all the other tracks. The album title track, Voyage of the Damned very much sums up the album as a whole. It is a ten minute long progressive epic that captivates the listener from the first minute to the last, much like the album itself.
The nature of the album lends itself to being an epic. And it is an epic listen. It is about an hour long and this will require great patience to listen to. And it does. I can safely say on first listen, I was unimpressed. I thought it just another metal album. But on second and then third listen you begin to notice the subtle nuances separating each song and making each track unique and somehow un-power metal. The album is not traditionally power-metal and this is exactly what stands it out from not only Iron Fire’s previous albums, but metal albums being released early this year.
Despite the length of this album it is worth listening to for another reason. A few of the tracks, including Slaughter of Souls, have had the vocals enhanced by using backing growls from Dave Ingram (Ex Benediction). He features a number of times on the album (also in Leviathan and Dreams of the Dead Moon) and his contribution only improves the quality of the lyrics and the emotion pouring through each track. The final track, Warmaster of Chaos is the perfect example of how the emotion, quality of lyrics and the growling vocals come together to create great music.
Overall, and as I have said before, this album has changed my view on power metal. Dare I say it but this could be a modern classic. The kind of album your CD collection just shouldn’t be without. If you can get past the length of the album. And then get past the fact you have to listen a few times to really appreciate its quality then this album is a must.
Rating – 9/10 (not 10 because of length)
1. The Dark Beyond
2. Enter Oblivion OJ-666
4. Slaughter of Souls
6. The Final Odyssey
7. Ten Years In Space
8. Voyage of the Damned
9. With Different Eyes
10. Dreams of the Dead Moon
11. Verge to Collide
12. Realm of Madness
13. Warmaster of Chaos