You can’t help but feel sympathy for the Iron Knights, formerly Stuka Squadron. Just on the cusp of the release of their new album everything went to hell in a handbasket as a major fallout in the band saw the departure of co-founder Lord Pyre and subsequent mud slinging led to a real concern that New Sound of War wouldn’t see the light of day.
But the now Iron Knights are made of far sterner stuff, the stuff of legend perhaps. True to form, they picked themselves up, gave the album a little bit of spit and polish while drafting in Bomber Beam on bass and got on with it. It could have been just as easy to throw in the towel I’m sure, but what the Iron Knights have produced is an album full of old school retro-vibed metal with a story to tell. it reminds me of Tenacious D in places, elements of Sabbath, Priest and Maiden. It harkens back to honest to God days of denim and leather and treads a similar fine line to that of Manowar, pushing dangerously close to parody or novelty act without ever actually going there.
Opener Jericho is dripping in old school vibe with vocal and guitar harmonies reminiscent of Queen in their heyday while First Legion is operatic epicness as Duke Fang Begley shows his range to good effect as he draws you in with his storytelling.
Feeder of Crows actually feels like Stranger in a Strange Land done by Tenacious D and this theme runs straight into Tell Me Strange Things, which has a great discordant riff running throughout and a quip to the vocals that would make Jack Black proud. The album is dripping in so much old school vibe I swear I can hear the crackle of the vinyl on the record player!
We get a brief interlude with the haunting instrumental of Immortals before we hit the middle eastern flavoured The Path with a huge solo section that is metal through and through. Desert Fox follows on, a track that I first heard live about six months ago at my first Planetmosh gig review. Live I remember this track was absolutely pounding and sadly it does lose a little bit of its venom on the album, but then again, don’t most metal tracks as they always should be heard live first and foremost. It reminds me of Judas Priest and I can hear shades of Rob Halford in the vocals throughout.
The Messenger comes stomping in full of evil intent and drives its way through you and the metal storytelling of another interlude, Afterwrath, before the Iron Knights end the album with power and precision in the form of final track Bloodstorm, a track that you know live will have the heads banging and the fists raised in salute.
Given all these guys have been through, it’s testament that they’ve risen from the ashes of the former band to drive onwards in their quest to tell stories from beyond the grave and in such a manner. Granted, there are some faults admittedly stopping this from being a great album. There doesn’t feel enough drive or bite to the whole thing, with the guitars in particular needing more definition and growl but these are issues not so much with the musicianship but more to do with the overall production. What the album definitely does do is take you back to the days when metal perhaps didn’t take itself quite so seriously and you know what, in this day and age we could all do with some of that attitude.
New Sound of War is out on Nov 26th through Metalbox Recordings.
2. First Legion
3. Feeder of Crows
4. Tell Me Strange Things
6. The Path
7. Desert Fox
8. The Messenger
IRON KNIGHTS are:
Duke Fang Begley – Vocals
Gravedigger Cox – Guitars
Count Carlos Montoya el Foxico – Guitars
Bomber Beam – Bass
Baron Von Hammerstein – Drums