Ironflame – Blood Red Victory Review

Since I discovered my love for our favorite music, I’ve essentially been one of those “metal only” people. Metal has so many permutations that I literally never feel the need to leave these mighty halls in search of the music that my soul desires — it’s all here! I feel like metal more than any other genre of music can cover the entire range of human emotion. Metal is generally stereotyped as dark music for dark emotions, and this can certainly be true. My rage can be quenched by thrash or death, my sadness by epic doom, and black metal allows me to embrace and make peace with the nihilism that results from observing the absurdity of life (Nevermore covers all of this, and that’s why they were the best). But as dark as life can be, there are many times where I need an idealistic, sappy perspective. Pop music, you say? Nay! A pox on you! It’s those times when I need a reminder that honor, courage, duty, and sacrifice really can make life better. I need pure fucking heavy metal.

Born in America’s literal heart of steel,1 Ironflame makes music that lives and breathes those heroic values. The brainchild of one Andrew D’Cagna (Nechochwen, ex-Obsequiae), the band specializes in true heavy metal, championing the styles of their musical forbears in Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Dio. The word “band” is used here loosely. Despite having a touring lineup and playing in festivals on both sides of the pond, on tape, Ironflame is all D’Cagna. He performs vocal, rhythm guitar, bass, and drum duties with only the guitar soloing being handled by session musicians. I familiarized myself with the two previous full-lengths and I must say that Blood Red Victory has its work cut out for it if it hopes to exceed the expectations set by its phenomenal predecessors. As if to put my fears to rest, the opening track sees the band storming the “Gates of Evermore.” Sending speed metal riffs galloping ahead, D’Cagna unleashes a volley of vocal arrows that blot out the sun and guitarists Jesse Scott and Quinn Lukas heave molten leads towards unsuspecting enemies. So far, so good.

“Honor Bound” continues the domination with an uplifting anthem to heavy metal itself. Landing like a Dream Evil warhammer strike, the track had me pointing out at an imaginary audience as I lip-synced the pre-chorus and pounding my chest as the chorus hit. If you ever doubt how great and wholesome metal can be, press play on this track and have your faith renewed! Maiden harmonies herald the opening of “Seekers of the Blade,” a song that blasts forth with speed and might and contains a gigantic sing-along chorus backed by those same harmonies. D’Cagna’s voice is a pleasing mixture of Dio and Theocracy’s Matt Smith, and I guarantee that if you listen to the embed, at some point within the next 24 hours you will find your mind or mouth singing “we are extraordinary men!” “Blood Red Cross” is basically a beefed up Dio anthem, and it rounds out an absolutely stellar A-side.

Things dip slightly on the second half starting with “On Ashen Wings.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad at all, but it falls into “very good” territory after an opening foursome that I would call “great” to “excellent.” At eight tracks and 40 minutes,2 Blood Red Victory flies by despite being front-loaded with the strongest four songs. The quality music is helped immensely by an excellent production. Thick bass presence backs up powerful guitars and D’Cagna’s voice soars above it all. He proves himself to be a musical genius as he plays every instrument masterfully. Check out “Gates of Evemore,” “Honor Bound,” “Seekers of the Blade,” “Blood Red Cross,” and “Grace and Valor” if you want to hear the cream of the crop.

After putting out two phenomenal albums, D’Cagna has proven on third offering Blood Red Victory that Ironflame is here to stay and intends to burn brightly as a beacon of American heavy metal for the foreseeable future. I highly recommend that true metal fans check out all three records. In fact, if you wear the blood red cross of metal upon your heart, I dare say you’re honor bound to give this a chance.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Divebomb Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 7th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Pennsylvania and Ohio for you metal material poseurs.
  2. Apparently there are two bonus tracks on the CD version that my promo did not include.
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