In a world where hardcore and deathcore seem to be taking over as the new sound of heavy metal, it is a relief that bands such as Iron Mask are still making metal that is pure and true. A band that blend elements of 80’s Dio, Maiden era metal and neoclassical, power metal to form a powerful, driving classic metal record that is a must have for those “true” metal heads out there. This is Black As Death, a blissful; fist pumping array of heavy metal thunder, made up of thirteen all killer, no filler metal anthems that will have you throwing the horns and trying on your old denim and leathers.
There are so many blinding tracks on this album that will not only have you singing along with a pint in your hand, but also have you banging your head furiously to the power chord laden, Maiden esque riffs. It’s the galloping, charging riffs such as those on tracks like ‘Broken Hero’, ‘Rebel Kid’ and ‘The Absence’ that really make this album mind blowing. They hype the listener, catching them out with an array of aggressive guitar lines that will mesmerise and hook them the moment they kick in. Dushan Petrossi is a hell of a lead guitar player giving the likes of Dave Murray, K.K Downing and Jon Schaffer a run for their money, and it goes without saying that without him Black As Death would not be as good as it is.
There are some beautiful prog rock elements on Black As Death, making it not only a brilliant record, but also a very musically diverse one as well. At some points sounding like Iced Earth and Pagan’s Mind, Iron Mask are a band that clearly have thought out the box when writing songs such as ‘Black As Death’, ‘God Punishes, I Kill’ and ‘Nosferatu’, adding long drawn out instrumental sections and solos, middle eight’s that take a different musical direction to the rest of the song and interesting changes in vocal tone to add an extra dimension to the music, making every moment on this record a special one.
Iron Mask isn’t inventing the wheel with Black As Death, they are doing what they do best and that is playing kick ass classing metal anthems. There are moments on this record such as in ‘When All Braves Fall’, ‘Feel the Fire’ and ‘Magic Sky Requiem’ that do give you a slight feeling of DéJá Vu as you listen to the choruses, making you think that maybe Iron Mask may just have finished listening to Powerslave by Maiden just before they wrote some of the songs on this album, but all in all the songs do work and hey…… If it sounds like Maiden, then it is going to be freaking awesome!
With amazing album artwork to depict thirteen brilliant, classic, balls out metal songs – Iron Mask have succeeded from the moment Black As Death kicks in to make an impression on the listener, blowing their mind with fist pumping metal hits, that will sound just as amazing live as they do on album. [8/10]