IRONSWORD
"Overlords of Chaos"

(Shadow Kingdom)

01. Death Of The Gods
02. And Ending In Fire
03. Overlords Of Chaos
04. Blood And Honor
05. Cimmeria
06. Wrath Of Crom
07. Hyperborean Hordes
08. Road Warriors
09. Fear The Night
10. Dark Shadows Of Stygia
11. Crown Of Iron
12. Call Of Cthulhu
13. The Pyre Of Kings

RATING: 8/10

A more appropriate name for this Portuguese band does not exist. The music of IRONSWORD heard on new album "Overlords of Chaos" (from traditional heavy metal label Shadow Kingdom) conjures images not of just Marshall stacks and denim 'n leather throngs, but of burly, hirsute dudes wielding axes and swords, whilst engaging in manly medieval activities. More importantly, "Overlords of Chaos" is a very well written album of meaty 'n melodic heavy metal.

Milking the "metal" references for all their worth, the riffs of guitarist/vocalist Tann are in fact ironclad, while the rhythm section of drummer Maalm and bassist Rick Thor (he of the beefy four strings) weighs a ton. Tann's vocals are husky as well, closer to DECEASED's King Fowley (but not as harsh) than, say, SAXON's Biff Byford. The entire album, save for the acoustic beauty of "The Pyre of Kings", boasts the kind of muscular style heard from a band like THE GATES OF SLUMBER, sans the doom elements. When folks talk about heavy meal anthems, rather than mere songs, "Overlords of Chaos" is the kind of album to which they are referring. It is an album of steel-belted riffs, fundamentally tuneful solos, a pounding rhythms section, and fist-pumping choruses devoid of awkward cheesiness and/or MANOWAR garishness. Songs such as the title track, "Road Warrior", and "Death to the Gods" are tough as hell with easily-grasped and immediately memorable refrains that make it ok to sing loudly, no matter the company you keep. The utilization of actual melodic singing on "Wrath of Crom", "Cimmeria", "Dark Shadows of Stygia", and an up-tempo, galloping diamond called "Fear the Night" (with singing that isn't quite as "clean" as the others) work wonders as points of contrast that deepen the album's impact. The same can be said of those all-important "little things", like the melodic guitar line over a solid drum beat and bass line on "An Ending in Fire".

So engrossed was I in the heavy metal purity of "Overlords of Chaos" that I did not even realize the total running time was a few minutes short of an hour. "Overlords of Chaos" is an album that is a cinch to appeal to old-school fans, as well as those with a burning desire to hear what real heavy metal is all about. The mall crawlers? Not so much.

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