Iron Mask – Master of Masters Review

Twenty-twenty has been the year of ore. Iron ore, that is. We’ve seen it extracted from the earth, thrown into the blasting furnace, and molded into steel. From that steel, we’ve seen so many swords forged, that it’s practically raining the motherfuckers. There’s Ironsword and Megatron Sword, Possessed Steel and Blood Hails Steel – Steel Hails Fire, to name a few. And it won’t fucking end as long as Steel is fanning the furnace. We’ve even seen the ore in its purest form with Eternal Champion‘s Ravening Iron and Iron Savior‘s Skycrest. But the ironing ain’t over yet. Released the same day as Skycrest, Iron Mask emerges once again from the cold, dark cellar. This time with their new opus, Master of Masters. Though they have another new vocalist, Dushan Petrossi continues to crank out the riffs. And, together, this Neoclassical power metal outfit is about to drop some of its best material to date.

Anyone that’s enjoyed the Neoclassical work of Yngwie Malmsteen has probably heard of Iron Mask. Though, even those people probably aren’t diehard Mask fans. Though they’ve been around for almost two decades, few would consider Iron Mask a staple of the genre. That probably has to do with shifting lineups and their power metal qualities blending in with the thousands of others that sound just like them. That said, Master of Masters is the band’s best effort since 2011’s Black as Death. Newcomer Mike Slembrouck has the pipes to support Petrossi’s insane fretboard fanatics. And the rhythm section rocks and rolls with the mighty presence of another ore-er: Iron Maiden.

It all begins with the catchy-as-fuck “Never Kiss the Ring.” Right away you can hear that bass guitar and, thankfully, you’ll hear it the rest of the album. You’ll also hear and feel that melodic passion in the vocals and instrumentation as the chorus washes over you. The follow-up track, “Tree of the World,” keeps pace with yet another fantastic chorus and a smooth Maiden gallop. Not to be outdone, the title-tracked closer lends its own gloved hands of steel. Led by the short instrumental “Sagittarius A,” “Master of Masters” ends the album with the same energy it started with. While these other two songs stick to the roof of your mouth like peanut butter, the closer will ring in your ears until morning.

Like most of their better releases, Master of Masters isn’t one-dimensional. The band mixes things up with the Maiden-esque “Wild and Lethal” —a song that could very well be a long-lost Maiden track with that bass-heavy lick and wailing Dickinson-like chorus. The band also drops some slow-chugging melodic pieces in the form of “Dance with the Beast” and “My One and Only.” The former is one of the better songs on the album and I still hear that damn chorus everywhere I go. Mask also shows off their cheesy side with “A Mother Loved Blue” and their Malmsteenings on “Nothing Lasts Forever.” The latter is an unbelievable display of guitar work that doesn’t slow down for nine full minutes.

I’ll admit, I tried not to like this album. Especially because 2016’s Diabolica didn’t blow me away. But I really like Master of Masters. The only song that doesn’t do anything for me is “Mist of Lock Ness.” It has the most irritating chorus on the record. I’m also not a huge fan of the cheeseball named “A Mother Loved Blue.” But those are my only qualms.1 The production is crystal clear and the bass and guitar work are some of the band’s finest. The new vocalist also fits the style fine, even if I liked the edge in Diego Valdez’s vox a bit better. But, if you’re looking for some power metal with a Neoclassical spin, look no further. How’s that for a little Belgium band no one knew?


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: iron-mask.com | facebook.com/ironmaskofficial
Releases Worldwide: December 4th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Minus the awful band photo and video outfits.
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