I feel a bit of pride that Western Canada has produced a lot of excellent classic metal bands in the past decade. Bands like RIOT CITY, STRIKER, and TRAVELER are just a few examples of the greatness I’m referring to. However, the best of all of them, in my opinion, is Vancouver’s own IRON KINGDOM (and not because they’re so local to me – that’s just a bonus), and this is more evident than ever in their fourth album to date: On the Hunt.
Combining old school dual guitar sounds with clear, crisp vocals and some of the best drumming I’ve ever heard from a classic metal band, On the Hunt offers a bit more of a modern approach to the style of old. It’s the perfect balance, production-wise, because every part is clear and separated but there’s still an organic feel to the whole thing. There’s no lack of passion and sincerity, but there’s also just enough flare to keep me excited about it.
Now, comparing any classic metal band to IRON MAIDEN is a bit of a given, but one extra-Maideny thing worth mentioning about On the Hunt is how the solo sections are structured. I don’t think there’s a time where there’s rhythm guitar behind the solos, which prevents any potential messiness and allows the bass to actually come through with some super juicy lines.
But let’s take a minute to talk songs, because, holy fuck, there’re some heavy hitters here. One of my favourites has to be ‘Sign of the Gods’, in which we get some great drum solos, which seem to be a lost art these days. Actually, it was on this song that I became aware of some Neil Peart influence in drummer Joey Paul‘s style. On the side of the axes, ‘Road Warriors’ and ‘Keep it Steel’ have some noteworthy facemelters but, let’s be honest; every solo put forth by Megan Merrick and Chris Osterman is just sick. The title of most unique track, though, has to go to ‘Invaders’. It’s a bit darker than the rest and it’s more dynamic, too. The pulled back sections and builds are all done really well, and, of course, so are the solos.
Of the hundreds of heavy metal bands that have “Iron” in their name, not very many of them are deserving of it. IRON MAIDEN? Obviously. IRON SAVIOR? Yup. IRON FIRE? Definitely. Of course, IRON KINGDOM are undoubtedly deserving of the mark, because the metal they’ve forged is strong, heavy, and true.
Originally written for PowerThorn.com.