Iron Fire - Among the DeadDenmark has lagged behind the rest of Scandinavia in terms of metal output, yet it’s easily my favorite metal country. Leaving aside the objective fact that King Diamond pretty much trumps the entire output of Sweden and Norway combined, I’ve met a disproportionately large number of wonderful, passionate Danish metal fans through my annual pilgrimages to Wacken and/or Summer Breeze. In addition to plying me with shots and teaching me the Cunt Song, these Danes have also revealed to me some hidden gems of their diverse metal scene. Iron Fire (correct pronunciation: EYE-ron FYE-AHH!!!!) are one of these gems. Formed at the turn of the millennium and billed in their promo material as “Denmark’s best-selling power metal band,” Iron Fire have consistently put out strong records with distinctive characters. 2014’s Voyage of the Damned was perhaps their darkest album to date, sounding like a cross between Dark Tranquility and Kamelot, but with more balls1. Since then the band has seen some personnel changes: original drummer Gunnar Olsen has returned to the fold, and they’re now operating as a three-piece. What does this mean for new record Among the Dead?

The changes are immediately apparent, as the rich keyboards that so enhanced Voyage of the Damned are gone completely, substituted with the thrash influences hinted at by the theme of the album name/art (zombies) and several song titles (“Among the Living Dead,” “Tornado of Souls Sickness”). You would be forgiven for confusing the opener (and title track) with Low-era Testament save that the excellent chorus is full-on anthemic power metal, while “Tornado of Sickness” exhibits the expected Megadeth influence in its verse married to a flamboyant Euro-power chorus.

So, atmospheric keys have been replaced by no-nonsense thrash grit, but this is still very much a power metal record, and as such contains its fair share of cheese. Fortunately this is kept to manageable levels: only on closing track “When the Lights Go Out” does the fragrance of fromage turn fetid, the band seriously challenging Poison and Cinderella for the title of Cringiest Rawk Ballad Ever Made. Elsewhere, nineties Helloween is an obvious reference point, particularly in rockier tracks “Higher Ground” (Helloween on a bad day) and “The Last Survivor” (Helloween on a good day). Despite this and several other fairly obvious reference points (mostly Rage), each track has a distinctive character thanks to the solid songwriting.

Iron Fire 2016

Martin Steene matches this simpler, thrashier sound with much harsher singing than on prior albums. The man has a strong death grunt that he uses sparingly and to great effect, while his singing is predominantly mid-ranged, sounding powerful and satisfyingly raspy. There’s none of the crazy falsetto or gaping wide vibrato that might be abused by a rank amateur here. Instrumentally Iron Fire are highly proficient, especially in the guitar department. Given the heavy Helloween influence I hoped for more prominent bass lines and some outrageous drumming, but sadly both are relegated to relatively bland supporting roles. Production-wise everything is crisp, clear, and a bit heavier than your average power metal sound, though still a little too modern for my tastes given the strong 90s influences in the writing.

Iron Fire have once again produced a fine power metal record that is different enough from their last to warrant a spin, but I’m a touch disappointed overall. The opening is extremely strong and on first listen I instantly contacted the Dane that introduced me to the band to express my delight, but the album is front-loaded and repeated listens revealed that my enthusiasm derived largely from my intoxicated state at the time (it helps to be a few pints in when talking to Danish people). While Among the Dead is a thrashingly interesting change for the band with a great title track and generally solid songs, it is never fantastic, so is unlikely to change their Steel Druhm-imposed third-tier status. Definitely give this a go if you’re into no-frills power, but don’t expect it to change your world.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Crime Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 16th, 2016

Show 1 footnote

  1. Or onions, as the Danes would say. Not long onions, though. That implies boredom. This has been Learning Danish Slang with Jean-Luc Ricard! In our next lesson, we will address the gooch (spoiler: “in-between meat”)
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  • Eldritch Elitist

    Their last gimmick (sci-fi) was cool and made for one of their best albums. But yes, let’s jump on the zombie bandwagon now, because that worked out so well for Hammerfall!

    • Heh. Yeah definitely prefer the previous one. This has some good tracks too though.

      • Eldritch Elitist

        Oh yeah, I’ll still check it out. I like the embedded track, and I dig the Mad Max inspiration for the truck on the cover.

        • sir_c

          It’s a bit a Dusk til dawn meets Mad max meets Bolt thrower cover

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    “King Diamond pretty much trumps the entire output of Sweden and Norway combined”

    My jimmies have been sufficiently rustled.

    • Oscar Albretsen

      King Diamond is overrated. There, I said it.

      • Two week site ban for metallic insanity.

        • Oscar Albretsen

          I take it back! I take it back!

        • Have you been masturbating a lot to Sweet Hollow by Them lately, by the way, and is it giving you the eargasms you were longing for?

        • jetblindracos

          SD is the resident ban-eater.

  • Iain Gleasure

    That King Diamond love verges on click baiting antagonism.

    Could it be… Dr. Grier the shadow writer?

  • Scourge

    Hey now, Cinderella is awesome so that’s not fair.

  • Nag Dammit

    Zombie Apocalypse thrash? How novel. Shame it sounds like the undead are playing the instruments too.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    The song didn’t really hold my interest. Sounded kinda like they were just going through the motions…

    • Thorbjørn Thaarup

      If those motions were the average power metal motions I would be very happy indeed. I love this song, and even I think they have made many mediocre ones over the years.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        Well, I’ve never heard any of their other stuff, save this one song. I’m stoked that this site’s been reviewing so many power metal albums lately.

      • This and the title track are definitely rocking

  • Thorbjørn Thaarup

    I’m the Dane who introduced you to EYE-ron FYE-AHH!!!!, and I can’t help pointing out a typo. You’ve given them 2.5 instead of 5.0. Where are the proof readers?

    • tending to their breast warts

      • in the cooling cupboard of the flying machine

        • Thorbjørn Thaarup

          I like how these jokes make no sense to people who don’t know Danish.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    Good music, terrible lyrics. this is a band Urban Breed should be writing/singing for. :)

  • Thorbjørn Thaarup

    As far as I can tell it’s the best of their albums for me since To the Grave in 2009. Obviously I bought it signed on red vinyl,