Album review: IRON MASK – Master Of Masters

IRON MASK – Master Of Masters

AFM Records [Release date 05.12.20]

For those who live and work outside Power Metal territory, bands like Iron Mask sound much like every other Power Metal band. When you’re on the inside though, perspective comes easy. Different musical styles readily swim into focus.

Established 2002, Iron Mask are very ably and skillfully led by guitarist/songwriter, Dushan Petrossi. And as every Iron Mask review ever written will tell you, his axework has the scope and scale of Malmsteen’s neo classical style. In fairness, he’s well beyond that now, and has been so for a while

What Petrossi does is distil heavy metal to its elemental state, then adorn it with real melodies, probably his greatest gift. The fact that it’s often delivered at multiple bpms and adorned with careering, neo classical guitarwork doesn’t disguise the quality of what’s within.

It’s quite noticeable that on this new album, Master Of Masters, he borrows heavily from Kai Hansen’s modus operandi – a simplification of Classical Music’s highly sophisticated form, with melodies, bass lines and chord progressions tightly controlled by spine tingling orchestration. ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ sees Malmsteen’s Trilogy stylistically fighting a fascinating duel with Carl Orf’s Carmina Burana, and the escalating operatics of ‘Never Kiss The Ring’ suggest that this simplification still allows for all the drama we can handle.

The ferocious guitars and multi movement treatment of ‘Revolution Rise’ and ‘One Against All’ show more conventional heavy metal traits, indication perhaps that Maidens and Masks share the same DNA in their Ironwork. They also give new vocalist Mike Slembrouk the opportunity to demonstrate his pleasingly articulated multi octave range.

Elsewhere, ‘Revolution Rise’s whirling celtic guitar orchestration and marching beat is a nice distraction from the heaviosity.

If the world of metal woke up to Iron Mask with 2011′s Black As Death, Master Of Masters is sure to keep it awake at night. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

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