I can’t remember the last time I reviewed so many back-to-back black metal releases. But, no matter if it’s black metal or power metal, with so many listening sessions of a single style of music, it takes awhile to snap out of it. I mean, Craft, Immortal, and Marduk have a shitload of albums to sift through. Though I know almost every one of them by heart, I never miss the opportunity to re-listen to a band’s entire catalog before beginning a new release. So, after hours and hours of listening to albums to better compare a new release to its predecessors, I’m free and now tasked with reviewing the debut album of a heavy/power metal band called Iron Hunter. Talk about your 180 flips. No aggression whatsoever. No thick atmospheres or ugly dispositions. No spiteful lyrics or venomous vocals. This Spanish quintet are starchasers and street warriors—combining the attributes of Iron Maiden and Metal Church. Which means one thing for Mankind Resistance: it’s big, it’s beefy, it’s soaring, and it’s fucking fun.
When I first saw the album art and title for this Iron Hunter records, I immediately thought of Savage Machine‘s Abandon Earth. Two 2018 debut albums similar in style and concept made it difficult to ignore the comparison. Thankfully—not because either are bad, but because I want to hear something new-ish—they’re just different enough to keep them both interesting. While not the most original disc out there, I’m a fan of Iron Hunter‘s fusion of Church and Maiden—in comparison to Savage Machine‘s Blind Guardian-isms. Not to mention, the album’s solos are killer and it’s one of the heavier, old-school metal records I’ve heard in some time.
But, I don’t wanna hype this up too much. While Mankind Resistance has some killer riffs on songs like “Blood, Fire & Steel”1 and “Beyond the Black Hole,” you’ll recognize the latter’s thrashy licks from the better days of Metal Church. It ain’t a total copycat but it’s definitely noticeable. And, for how kickass the groove is of “Blood, Fire & Steel,” the album’s greatest drawback comes out: the vocals. The chorus of “Blood, Fire & Steel” is the only part of this song I dislike. It’s the heaviest track on the album, with a nifty mid-song transition (and a sick little guitar lead on top) that is so goddamn pleasing. But the chorus is cheesy as fuck and its delivery doesn’t work.
This is something that haunts most of the album. Yet, it doesn’t kill it. While the vocals may lack the umph needed to make this album a classic, the guitars and drums make up for it. “Street Warriors” and “The Deathbringer” bring more of that lovely Metal Church character, with an occasional Maiden lick and loads of massive bass guitar. “Street Warriors” delivers the standard elements that make both of its influences great—head-bobbing groove, bass and drum rhythm, and (mostly) catchy vocals—but it doesn’t go as far as “The Deathbringer.” This little ditty includes layers of classic heavy metal and ends with a big, melodic Iced Earth-like climax. For more melodic Iron Maiden-isms, “I’ll Die for You” won’t disappoint. It has bass guitar arrangements decorated up as centerpieces and—next to “Save the World”—it’s home to my favorite vocal arrangements. Like a stepping ladder to true Maiden worship, we go from “I’ll Die for You” to instrumental “Starchaser” and the bonus track, “Killing Machine.” The former is a nice break in the action, while the latter is the ultimate in Maiden love.
As stated before, you shouldn’t expect life-changing stuff here—especially in the vocal department. But the guitar work (especially on tracks like “Starchaser” and “Blood, Fire & Steel”) is nothing to snub one’s nose at. Most of the riffs have enough testosterone to impregnate half of the Spanish heavy metal community and the leads and solos are quite creative. If it weren’t for the less-than-stellar vox and the record’s insane clipping, this would be higher for me. I’m a sucker for this shit. That said, this is one fun album. It’s low on filler and—bonus track included—taps out at a mere thirty-five minutes. So, take a break from all that Gaerea shit and have some fun for a change.