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Iron Mask - 2013 Fifth Son Of Winterdoom

ARTIST: Iron Mask
ALBUM: Fifth Son Of Winterdoom
LABEL: AFM Records
YEAR: 2013


LINEUP: Mark Boals - vocals * Dushan Petrossi - guitars, orchestration * Vasili Molchanov - bass * Andreas Lindhal - keyboards * Ramy Ali - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Back Into Mystery * 02 Like A Lion In A Cage * 03 Only One Commandment * 04 Seven Samurai * 05 Fifth Son of Winterdoom * 06 Angel Eyes, Demon Soul * 07 Rock Religion * 08 Father Farewell * 09 Eagle Of Fire * 10 Reconquista 1492 * 11 Run To Me * 12 The Picture Of Dorian Grey * 13 We Were Soldiers (Instrumental) (Bonus Track)



Iron Mask was a band that we reviewed here ages ago. I think we also did an interview with Dushan Petrossi at the time (thanks Luigi!). After years away from our camera eye, Iron Mask return with a new album (their fifth, clever huh?), and howzabout that cover for a start? It's a Christmas theme, but not quite a Christmas theme. Maybe wintery north Scandanavia? But these blokes hail from Belgium, Germany, Russia, Sweden and the USA, so that's not a plan! Whatever the case, I recall Petrossi being a Yngwie Malmsteen like wunderkind. Teaming up with American neo-classical vocalist Mark Boals seems like a match made in operatic metal heaven! Add to that former Frontline drummer Ramy Ali, and Russian bassist Vasiliy Molchanov, formerly with Russian metallers Shah, Cryme and Petrossi's other band Magic Kingdom. Petrossi had been with Lion Music for much of his Iron Mask discography, but that label's lower profile prompted a move to Germany's AFM Records, and that is a good one as Iron Mask now has a public profile again.

The Songs
I have to say, 'Fifth Son Of Winterdoom' is a very melodic affair, and it was produced by Petrossi too! Very taken aback upon first listen, which can only be a good thing right? It was like listening to Brazen Abbot on steroids, though Petrossi's Malmsteen's solo noodling is still very much apparent. In fact, if you liked Malmsteen's 80's era, then you'll love this.

'Back Into Mystery' is very much a mild introduction, more akin to melodic hard rock. It works for me!

Second up, and it's rampage time. 'Like A Lion In A Cage' is a beastly affair, massive riffs, double kick drums, something similar to Japanese heroes Anthem who thrive in this environment also.

'Only One Commandment' comes with a regimented backdrop, somewhat like Stryper and not because of the song-title I'll have you know..

'Seven Samurai' is chock full of wicked riffs and a booming back-end. The vocals are slightly unusual from Boals, so too the arrangement, which has an offbeat time signature tailing the chorus. This track could qualify as technical prog metal. Surely interesting..

The title track 'Fifth Son of Winterdoom' is the longest track here. 10 minutes. Any longer and we'll be venturing into Pink Floyd territory! The celtic flavour is quite beautiful, while some of you will be harking back to the likes of Iona or even Dare during the opening discourse, but that's where it ends, as this now moves into being a tribute to the late Gary Moore! Petrossi will openly admit to an admiration for the Irish guitarist, so what better way to get the love and message across.. lol!

'Angel Eyes, Demon Soul' by contrast is the shortest track on offer (3.22), and sounds like it too, with as much muscle crammed into a short space, squeezing out all excess so that a rumbuctious and tight pop metal track remains.. (did I say that?)

'Rock Religion' has all the attributes of a power anthem, they really should be singing this at Sunday Mass! The vocal shoutouts is classic 80's stuff.

'Father Farewell' is restrained and poignant, and then takes off in the vein of operatic Savatage and perhaps maybe Queensryche. It's ambient feel goes deeper than the usual, as a result, this reaches into melodic metal territory with ease.

High-stepping their way to glory, Iron Mask deliver 'Eagle Of Fire' amidst a blaze of accelerated tempo and fiery instruments. Very much like a phoenix rising.

'Reconquista 1492' is another lengthy track at 7 minutes, as you can probably tell, it's geared around Christopher Columbus and his voyage to the new world. It operates at half speed, and I guess this to keep within the theme of the songs message. Petrossi can't quite avoid adding his Yngwie Malmsteen influences all over this song, no problem for me, as he sounds far better than the original (I would say master, but then I'd have to mention Richie Blackmore.. lol!)

'Run To Me' is a likeable gallop across the fields. Very anthemic mostly, but the guitar tone of Petrossi isn't the best, particularly on the filler spots during the verses. The solo spots are ok though, thank goodness!

'The Picture Of Dorian Grey' is the epicus dominatus of the album. At nearly 8 minutes, it's as overblown as anything, but if you're a sucker for a good story, then anything to do with Dorian Grey is worthy of a mention. Picture perfect? Probably.

The album finishes with the instrumental 'We Were Soldiers', at only a touch over a minute, it's probably too short to throw a comment at it.

In Summary
So there you go. Something for everyone here. Three tracks over 7 minutes. The rest around the 5 minute mark, a couple shorter than that. I don't have any complaints with this album at all. I've had it on extended play during the day, ensuring I got the chance to give the thing a good listen. It has all the hallmarks you would expect from a band playing this style and within the operatic come neo-classical heavy metal genre. There have been a few good albums during 2013 in this genre, and all around I think it has been a good year for bands who have delivered albums, even if GDM hasn't gotten around to all of them. Despite that, I'm glad I got to spend the day with messrs Petrossi, Boals etc. Give it a whirl.

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