IRON FIRE
"Blade of Triumph"

(Napalm)

01. Dragonheart
02. Bloodbath of Knights
03. Dawn of Victory
04. Lord of the Labyrinth
05. Bridges Will Burn
06. Follow the Sign
07. Steel Invaders
08. Jackal's Eye
09. Legend of the Magic Sword
10. Gladiator's Path
11. Blade of Triumph

RATING: 7/10

So maybe I ignored IRON FIRE's last album, "Revenge", based on my distaste for Martin Steene's vocals, which sucked some of the life out of FORCE OF EVIL. The guy's voice sounds like power metal's answer to Jon Bon Jovi, a slight exaggeration perhaps, but it is a thought that has run through my mind on many occasions. Giving Steene another chance to impress, I mustered up the courage to pop in IRON FIRE's fourth release, "Blade of Triumph", and I'm glad I did, as it is a worthwhile power metal album. Giving credit where credit is due, Steene's vocals work much better in this context, at least to my ears.

A crisp Fredrik Nordström production, arrangements that get the point across without cheesing out (for the most part anyway), and a batch of melodies that are pretty darn effective make "Blade of Triumph" an enjoyable release. Lyrics about dragons, knights, gladiators, and magic swords will provide more than enough medieval imagery for the puffy shirt crowd, as well as those that simply enjoy their power metal infused with a little escapism. If nothing else, a premium is placed on the fun factor.

The more traditional rockers of the bunch, such as "Dragonheart" and "Bridges Will Burn" come with tough rhythms, meaty riffs, and choruses that should get the European festival crowds in particular singing in unison. In fact, IRON FIRE keeps the material hooky throughout, such as on the triumphant "Bloodbath of Knights", the battle-march metal of "Dawn of Victory", and the comparatively laid back "Follow the Sign". While "Steel Invaders" is on the whole a classic piece of power metal bombast, a chorus that includes the line "Raise your metal fists in the air, brothers everywhere" does put a little cringe in the bones, which has as much to do with the pattern as the words.

One of the album's highlights is also its mellowest song, "Legend of the Magic Sword". The light, acoustic parts and an enchanting Celtic folk melody make for a pleasantly surprising addition. A couple of tunes, namely "Jackal's Eye" and "Gladiator's Path", are borderline mediocre, yet still entertaining.

As far as power metal albums go, "Blade of Triumph" is a reliable release. Taken as a whole, there is a good deal of likeable tunes on this one, thanks to the band's knack for tunefulness and a proudly metallic approach.

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