eternal-champion_the-armor-or-ireHow did I miss an album with that cover, you ask? We didn’t get the damn promo, that’s how. If we did, I’d have seen the title (the same as a much beloved Sega Genesis brawler from my youth), taken notice of the art and the rest would be history. Now that I’m way late to the raiding party, I’m finding this thing the near-perfect companion piece to the awesome Sumerlands debut of earlier this year. Eternal Champion plays a similar style of throwback metal and even feature two Sumerlands members, but they take the power-prog style further into the realms of the epic and trve. Since the two bands’ fates are clearly entwined, does this warrant as much attention as their brother in metal? Does Conan shit in the Hyborian Age?

In a nutshell The Armor of Ire is a platter of righteous barbarian metal merging genre greats like Cirith Ungol and Manilla Road with modern acts like Visigoth and Slough Feg. The album’s concept is taken from the fantasy works of Michael Moorcock and that means songs about the importance of a good armorer, basic sword maintenance and of course, bringing down the hammer on all manner of daily annoyances. Take the opener, “I Am the Hammer” for instance. As you’d expect it foretells of many things hammer-related and all involve some fool getting his dome remodeled. The music sits somewhere between Twisted Tower Dire and Sumerlands and it’s an instantly likable ode of blunt object problem-solving. I especially love the weird vocal chirps which remind me of Jon Oliva’s siren song from the Savatage classic “Sirens.” Cuts like the awesome title track are so damn catchy and addicting, it almost feels unseemly for metal this epical and manly. When the band adopts elements from Tyr and Slough Feg on songs like “The Last King of Pictdom” and “The Cold Sword,” it’s hard not to love the results.

With just seven songs and a 34 minute runtime you’ll definitely be left wanting a whole lot more. If there is a major knock against this, it’s the brevity, as 2 tracks are musical interludes. Yes, this is the rare album I would love to see lengthened, and you know that kind of sentiment is verboten at this establishment.

Sumerlands own Arthur Rizk handles drums, bass, keyboards as well as the production. Jason Tarpey lays down some excellent vocals which remind me a lot of Tyr‘s Henri Joensen and in true Iron Maiden fashion, the band packs 3 guitarists, including Nujon Powers of Sumerlands. Together the three of them riff their little hearts out, touching on everything from Cirith Ungol to Maiden and Priest while always entertaining thoroughly.

This thing just keeps growing on me and it will likely do the same to you if you let it. So put down that seasonal fruit cake, cage your Hatchimal®™ and strap on The Armor of Ire, you rebel scum!

Tracks to Check Out: “I Am the Hammer,” “The Armor of Ire” and “The Last King of Pictdom”


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  • mindbleach

    Love this album, and glad to see it covered in the end of year stuff having, er, championed it on the forum. Sits alongside sumerlands and High Spirits as one of those great short, fun bursts of metal we’ve had this year.

  • I usually fucking despise power metal, but this album melted my heart of stone this year. Awesome stuff.

  • Ivan Kuptsov

    I am really surprised you still have not reviewed Schammasch on this website. They put out one of the best black metal albums this year… imho…

    • Kronos

      I am to remember a little band called Swallow the Sun that might clue you in to why Sandwich hasn’t been reviewed yet. I also think that the album in question is ridiculously boring, but other authors here disagree…

      • Thatguy

        I have enjoyed Schammasch in the past – and I defended StS – but I agree, the latest epic is boring.

        • Kronos

          It’s like Deathspell omega but lethargic as all hell.

    • GardensTale

      The year is not over yet.

  • Iain Gleasure

    We’re nearing the point where Druhm can just cut random bits from other reviews, change the song titles, and publish the review.

    Also, Druhm confirmed West Ham Hammers fan

    • There’s only so much you can say about 80s trve metal. Same with Swedeath.

      • Scourge

        Steel, have you checked out Olÿphant’s Expedition to the Barrier Peaks album? Just curious because it seems like something you’d love… I think it’s totally killer!

  • madhare

    I think I’m starting to agree with Thatguy. This, Sumerlands, High Spirits, etc., are good in their own way. But after enjoying them for a spin or two. I just don’t see the point. I just rather go back to the originals.

    Maybe these work live. After all, they these are young-ish energetic bands, not old tired farts like the originals.

    I wouldn’t mind the whole retro thing, if they had something original to offer. Or if they would somehow manage to top all the old bands. But if they did that, we probably wouldn’t even call them retro bands.

    Maybe I’m just not old enough to simply suck energy of anything and everything that would vaguely remind me of my youth.

    • Thatguy

      Ha! At last.

      Fuck the past.

    • Requiem

      As much as I did enjoy the embedded track, I find it hard not to agree with you to some degree, and the last line of your comment made me laugh an awful lot.

    • brklyner

      They certainly do work live! I don’t listen to this kind of retro metal much, but saw Eternal Champion with Crypt Sermon and Sumerlands and was highly entertained!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Saw this on the Bandcamp Metal page some time ago, and I was thinking of SD. Not that I think of SD a lot… I mean, he’s nice, I guess. I just don’t.. well, never mind.

    When Druhm saw this it must have been like a dog spotting a squirrel. I shall listen and judge this by my Conan Metal standard: None but the Brave.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Wow, that was scary…

    • Prepare the Restraining Order ov Steel!

    • Thatguy

      I thought of SD as soon as I saw the cover here and I knew I wouldn’t care for this. The embedded song sounds tired to me…

      • No, you sound tired! Bring in the cellos.

        • Thatguy

          You’re a bully! Not the cello!

  • Kronos

    This makes me think of Genesis for some reason. Still, very trve. Cool stuff.

    • I loved that game.

      • Kronos

        Actually, I was referring to the band. I’m not sure whether that dates you more or less…

    • brutal_sushi

      The vocal style is very Genesissy.

  • I can’t tell if you borrowed Frank of Metal’s comment on their bandcamp page, or if you ARE Frank of Metal.

    • I’m not Frank, nor have I visited their Bandcamp page. Do I have a lost brother of metal somewhere?

      • Reese Burns

        Iron Bongoh?

      • Seems that way. Weird.

      • Frank (@FVSantorelli) One of the best epic traditional metal albums I’ve heard in a long time! Takes me back to when I was a young lad listening to Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol. Well done! Favorite track: Invoker.

        cf

        In a nutshell The Armor of Ire is a platter of righteous barbarian metal merging genre greats like Cirith Ungol and Manilla Road with modern acts like Visigoth and Slough Feg.

  • TheTransmuted

    Traditional and power metal have produced some excellent releases this year. Eternal Champion, Spellcaster, Sumerlands… makes me happy.

  • I listened to this earlier in the week. While I loved the sound, I didn’t find the songs to be particularly engaging. I felt a similar way about Sumerlands, though this is much better. Actually, I didnt like Sumerlands at all.

    I’ll probably give this another listen.

  • Zach Ward

    Never been one for power metal at all. Seems too close to hair metal, and hair metal, should not be classed as metal. At least to me that is.

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      lol, just lol

    • The Unicorn

      What about hair PIE?

  • The Unicorn

    Fuck me. I finished my Top 10 and submitted it to the ranks, and forgot about this damned cd as I heard it so early on. Great review, great release!

  • Requiem

    This is pretty cool. As much as I don’t actively sniff this stuff out I appreciate the energy and vibrancy in performances like these. It’s always nice to hear musicians who still sound like they actually give a shit.

  • basenjibrian

    Michael Moorcock? I don’t even like this kind of music and that reference grabs me!

  • Kill The King

    Yassss. Also was hoping that someone would namedrop that Sega game! Hell of an album that I’m glad the best damn metal review site gave much deserved respect to.

  • Wilhelm

    So I thought this was also the vocalist for Sumerlands, after a quick check, I found that’s not the case, they sound very similar. Very good stuff, classic U.S. 80’s Heavy/Power Metal with swords makes me happy.

  • Kalsten

    I am surprised that ManOwaR has not been referenced at all during the review…

  • sicknick

    Very good album, though the reverb kind of annoys me.

    I’d love to read a review of “Tsar” by Almanac by the way.

  • Huck N’ Roll

    You can’t go wrong when Hammers are brought into play.