How 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”