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IRON KINGDOM The Blood Of Creation

By Terry Martinson, Contributor
Wednesday, January 18, 2023 @ 7:55 AM

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The Blood Of Creation

Self Released

Sigh. This review is a massive reality check, a bummer, a testament to the vastness of the world we live in, but fear not, a silver lining is upon us. So to explain, firstly The Blood of Creation, the FIFTH release of Canada’s IRON KINGDOM is an absolutely tasty album, yep it's quite awesome. The “bummer” is that as I just mentioned this is their 5th release, one of the previous releases being a live in Seattle album and I haven't been blessed with knowing of this seemingly “local” (to me) band and their wares. Double sigh.

Melodrama aside, IRON KINGDOM and the band's long standing career certainly seems to have come into full stride with The Blood of Creation and it’s crisp, tight and perfectly tracked (there are 8, just like a tape, album or CD should have) release.

Over the bands 12 year history, there has been a little attrition, like many bands experience, however the core remained in Chris Osterman (Lead Vocals/Lead Guitar), Leighton Holmes (Bass Guitar), and the line up was fortified recently with the addition of Megan Merrick (Lead Guitar), Max Friesen (Drums) and they sound very well together.

As we spin The Blood of Creation and in turn, wash, rinse and repeat with 30-40 listens, we the listener start to pick up on IRON KINGDOM's influences and we start to understand why others compare them to a litany of NWOBH bands before them in the likes of IRON MAIDEN, ACCEPT, SAXON, and so many others. For me, and I find this a high compliment, maybe more so than the plutonium selling artists, but IRON KINGDOM and in particular this release reminded me on numerous occasions of MALICE and in particular “Against the Empire”, which "Queen of the Crystal Throne" reminded me of greatly and the self titled METAL CHURCH album.

The disc begins with the instrumental, "Tides Of Desolation", a mid tempo’d number, that features a folky, almost tribal, rhythm, filled with background chants and nicely paired solo’ing that seamlessly leads right into "Sheathe The Sword" an absolute rocker that showcases Chris’ vocal range, power and prowess from the very beginning scream replete with an emphatic ”uh” to the chorus’ over the top wail of “sword’ and its secondary “ohwoahohs”. The playing, oh my, the musicianship oof. This song is fast, galloping at times with plenty of shredding and up up up tempo drumming. Again Chris’ vocals are the highlight, but there are no lows and the song is well into the 5 minutes in length, of which the listener is holding on for dear life, so it feels like a song half its length. The tempo and rhythm changes are what ticks the early METAL CHURCH boxes herein for me as does Chris’ soaring vocals. "Queen of The Crystal Throne" is next and good night, what a banger. Not going to sugarcoat this, but if this was IRON KINGDOM’s one and only song (think Seattle’s LIPSTICK and their cult classic “Daily Grind”) I’d be happy as can be as it is absolute perfection. Blending elements of the aforementioned MALICE and their iconic “Against The Empire” and tastefully including the equally epic “Princess of The Dawn" from ACCEPT and for fun a sprinkling of QUEENSRYCHE’s “Queen of Ryche”. If any of those songs tickle you then "Crystal Throne" will have you guffawing with glee as it is perfect. “Hunter And Prey”" is next and it stays true to the horse that got us here, soaring vocals, thundering/galloping bass and drums, intricate and weaving leads and rhythm guitars from Chris and Megan and solos that put on a clinic, very very good. Another awesome song of which along with the already mentioned top shelf elements its the solos that need mentioning, from the Lynch-like squeels and the Vanderhoof shreds wow. Chris’ scream to close is another note, literally, that is noteworthy.

Side 2 (if we were flipping tapes or vinyl) begins with a similarly mid tempo’d hard rocking number "Witching Hour". That does not deviate from the previous tracks, and has some of the tastiest dual leads heard in the 2020’s, very MAIDEN-like and very good. I appreciate the break down, that slows our tempo down, brings in a “Gods of Wrath" feeling and is a brilliant foundation for the most ridiculous (goose bump worthy) screams from Chris as he belts out “the witching hour” and a series of “yeah yeah yas". Of note is the introduction of the double bass drumming in this one during this sing fest of an outro. A missed opportunity in note including a gong on the waning notes, but it has been done before. "In The Grip of A Nightmare" continues our journey of hard rocking metal, where we notice Chris’ inclusion of a hefty smattering of TESLA’s Jeff Keith’s rasp in his presentation, along with the Reverend David Wayne staple. Another solid rocking number that pairs nicely with the previous songs and maintains the standard. "Primordial" doesn’t waiver in the approach, and is an uptempo galloping and thunderous rhythmic instrumental doing precisely what IRON KINGDOM has so effortlessly done previously. Of note are the “warbles” in the guitar leads, that complement the rhythmic soloing, of which effortlessly transitions into the album's closer and title track, "The Blood of Creation". Blood starts with a head banging rhythm, that is shredded over the top of proficiently and effortlessly it seems and then Chris soars in with his godlike vocals, my word can he wail. As a whole, like "Queen of The Crystal Throne", "The Blood of Creation" mixes the same MALICE, METAL CHURCH and QUEENSRYCHE elements and deliver them again and I must recant a previous statement and say that I need IRON KINGDOM to have this song in their catalog as well, say side B to QUEEN. Now now, I know we have 4 other tracks here, and they are no sleepers in the least, but if I was only allowed 2 IRON KINGDOM songs ever,"‘Queen of The Crystal Throne" and "The Blood of Creation" would be the songs. And as I write and re-listen Blood just takes the best of all things IRON KINGDOM and turns them up to 11. Blood is ripe with rhythmic complexity, time and tempo changes, dualling solo’ing, and of course Chris’ (if not now then soon enough) legendary vocals. The guy can sing and his voice and the rest of the band fit so seamlessly together, it's damn near perfect. I absolutely adore that "The Blood of Creation" is double the length of the rest of the tracks and that as mentioned the band dips in and out of differing song structures and rhythms, but tying them all together effortlessly and in epic proportions. What a closer. Ending on the highest of high notes, literally and for this listener, encouraged me to start the whole album over once again (which I did).

To put a bow on IRON KINGDOM's The Blood of Creation, it's dang good, borderline perfect and any fan of hard rock and heavy metal that is slathered with soaring epic vocals, dual guitar rhythm and shredding solo’s layed down on a feather bed of thunderous, galloping and filling chattering drums and bass then go, go, go get you some of this. A monster thank you to Chris for taking the time to chat me up and gift me this glorious CD. Now I need to go and get the back catalog…

Full Album Stream

4.5 Out Of 5.0

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