Eternal Champion – Ravening Iron Review

No Remorse records 2020

There are more swords hanging over our heads than usual lately in the Skull Pit of Unsafe Hanging Cutlery.1 With Megaton Sword fresh in our collective mindsheaths, here comes the might and majesty of Austin, Texas natives Eternal Champion. Ravening Iron is the band’s sophomore opus and it’s an improvement over 2016s entertainingly olde school The Armor of Ire. With tighter songs, bigger hooks, meaner riffs, and more compelling vocals, this is the sound of trve, epic metal done as it should be and with passion and a warrior’s conviction. Considering Eternal Champion features three members of Sumerlands, this success shouldn’t be a surprise, as I still find myself obsessed with their eponymous platter some four years after its release. Without further ado, let’s strike while the iron is hot and see what the runes tell us. Hey! Eyes on the review, you pervs!

As soon as opener “A Face in the Glare” gets its axe swinging it’s clear this is a much altered beast from the last time we crossed swords. Everything sounds more immediate and hooky, from those hot riffs to the heroic vocals of Jason Tarpey. It’s like the last four years were spent in intensive training for the Battle of 2020 and these dudes are ready to rumble. The music is still in the same vein as their last outing which puts it between Visigoth and Tyr, and the combination of sharp guitar-work and niche but well done vocals sells it hard. The title track is the album highlight, and it’s the near perfect trve metal song – upbeat, fist pumping, adrenaline triggering, and oh so badass. As Tarpey intones “thousands of swords. No one can take them from me,” I feel my mead muscles growing and the urge to sack becoming nigh irresistible. This is a Song o’ the Year contender with sharp elbows ov destruction. “Skullseeker” is a slower, bulldozing tune with massive riffs plowing the field of all opposition as Tarpey wails and warbles in fine form. The chorus is both dumb and completely addictive and it’s been infecting the AMG offices for weeks despite decontamination protocols and leather mask mandates.

But wait, there’s war! “War at the Edge of the End” is another instant trve metal classic that you’ll love from spin one. It’s got that righteous gallop and it brings macho glory to the land with more 80s gold than you miserable wretches deserve. “Coward’s Keep” is pure insanity, mixing elements of Cirith Ungol with Sumerlands and Tyr as the guitar-work punches into vintage Megadeth territory, all while fending off endless legions of orc and mork. Downsides? Well, this is a very short album at 37 minutes2 and the already brief runtime is padded by the somewhat throwaway interlude “The Godblade.” Additionally, album closer “Banners of Arhai” isn’t quite as victorious as the better cuts and its doomy, languid pace ends an otherwise crushing conquest on an underwhelming note.

The defining element that makes Ravening Iron so ravening are those killer riffs. For this we have Arthur Rizk and John Powers, both of Sumerlands, to hail.  They really deliver the six-string goods this time, providing propulsive, olde timey leads that make you want to get rowdy and join the nearest Norse Warfare Reenactment Club. I can’t say enough about the righteous riffage that makes almost every song an absolute pleasure dripping with molten nostalgia. Jason Tarpey’s vocals have improved a good deal since last time and he’s threatening to challenge Visigoth‘s Jake Rogers for trve metal mastery. Since Jake provided backing vocals here, that must have been a bit awkward. Add in a nice production by Rizk and you have a short but savage pillage package of throwback metal that will stick in your head like a titanium morningstar.

Ravening Iron bears a sharper edge than Eternal Champion‘s debut and will get many a spin this year alongside Megaton Sword. If you need more classic, trve, epic metal in your life, this is the +5 remorseless warblade you seek. Gird your loinage in a finely armored codpiece and invest in a multi-sword belt. Things are getting mighty pokey in late 2020.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: No Remorse Records
Websites: eternalchampion.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/eternalchampion
Releases Worldwide: November 20th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Don’t tell OSHA. We have no insurance.
  2. I know, how dare we complain about a short album?!
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