Iron Kingdom – On the Hunt Review

I’ve taken quite the death metal detour over the last few months, so it’s high time I get around to covering my original love: classic heavy metal. To tell you the truth, ever since Skelator effectively melted my face and satisfied my thirst for new olde metal (and nearly cost me this writing gig),1 I haven’t felt the need to heed the air raid siren’s call. But much like the subject depicted in this album’s artwork, once I took a swing at the advance track for On the Hunt and saw the resultant blood, I had to follow the trail to see where it ended. So, donning my Arctic Wolf Fur Armor (+50% Cold Resistance), I tracked my prey through forest and field until finally coming upon an open gate. I steeled my resolve and ventured forth into the land beyond. I had entered the Iron Kingdom.

Even if you’ve never traveled within the Iron Kingdom, you’ll probably have no problem navigating its terrain as it is comfortably familiar. The band’s name alone should suggest that Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Helloween will spring to mind as the band’s fourth full-length album unfolds with nine tracks and 40 minutes of enjoyable no-frills classic metal. Singer Chris Osterman has a delivery reminiscent of Michael Kiske, and it actually took a little bit of getting use to for me. When I mentioned this out loud, my daughter Ellzebub gently reminded me that he sounds exactly like another voice that I love, Skelator‘s Jason Conde-Houston—and she’s not wrong. Osterman puts on a great show for the majority of On the Hunt, and his performance elevates the album despite the music brining nothing new to the traditional metal table.

Don’t get me wrong, the music is fun too. Opener and first single “White Wolf” employs a nice gallop and strong bass guitar as Osterman hits some great high harmonies. The band channels Jag Panzer as things move into speed metal territory on “Sign of the Gods” and “Keep it Steel,” a song that’s sure to please this site’s resident primate taskmaster. It’s a bold choice for a band with Iron in their name to release a song called “Invaders,” but the boys and girl of the Kingdom don’t let that stop them from attempting to conquer sacred ground. Osterman also shares guitar duties with Megan Merrick, and they blaze through a classic metal solo before slowing down into a bluesy and almost proggy passage, helping the track succeed despite the risks. The duo’s harmonized leads shine in “Road Warriors,” and closer “The Dream” is a cheesy but charming ballad.

But not all that’s cheesy is charming. Some of the lyrics and phrasing hold On the Hunt back from transcending the merely good. For example, the chorus of “Drifting through Time” consists of Osterman singing the song’s title over and over but repeating “drifting” three times and, combined with a less satisfying vocal performance, this results in the track being a bit of a dud. There are a few times where the vocals are so high in the mix that they can be piercing when the volume is cranked. Other than the aforementioned track that “drifts” a bit off course, the whole package is enjoyable with “White Wolf,” “Keep It Steel,” and “Road Warriors” being my favorites.

I didn’t quite have the beast’s number as I followed my prey through the Iron Kingdom, but that doesn’t mean that I walked away empty handed—the journey itself is reward enough. Diabolus recently discussed the idea of nostalgia, and On the Hunt could pass the aesthetic test with one hand tied behind its back. This record doesn’t bring anything new to the table and stumbles a couple of times, but fans of the olde should enjoy almost all of its 40 minutes.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: iron-kingdom.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/ironkingdom
Releases Worldwide: October 4th, 2019

Show 1 footnote

  1. See Angry Metal Guy‘s comment on my review of Cyber Metal.
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