Ironflame - Blood Red Victory

Ironflame Blood Red Victory cover
Blood Red Victory
Divebomb Records / Metalworld Switzerland
Ironflame have been a going concern for the past few years, the brainchild of well-traveled multi-talented instrumentalist and vocalist Andrew D’Cagna (newly minted in Icarus Witch but also member of a myriad of other bands), who seems to be a real one man band, with an ensemble of musicians helping out with live performances and a quick succession of some three albums since their conception in 2016 including the current one “Blood Red Victory”.
The result is an honest blue collar, heavy metal with slight epic tendencies, but ones that actually tend to stay in tune (ie Twisted Tower Dire, Walpyrgus, Holy Grail etc. and maybe Visigoth to some extend) a more Rainbow/Maiden inspired metal that might actually share epic themes and war-like lyrics, but doesn’t slip the slippery slope of many a bands that want to be Manowar but end up sounding like Manilla Road instead.
The one man band status means that D’Cagna is economic with his instrumental performances, but while that might have resulted in relatively boring and simplistic compositions, his economy means to the point songs, where every note seems to have a purpose. There are nice harmonies and even accomplished solos that sort of elevate the whole result way above mediocrity. I mean it’s one guy doing it all and he’s not particularly bad at anything… other than the drumming being a little unimaginative. I could easily come up with lots of bands that sound more basic than this.
Gate of Evermore” has a galloping that takes the best of Maiden and pollinates it with an Omenesque grit, which actually fits it fairly well... Riot V would have not minded if this little number had popped in – especially on their latest album, I reckon.
“Honor Bound” doesn’t throw away its heroic laurels and epic mantle, but probably exchanges the Maiden with a Priestly influence… ie with a little imagination and a lot of Halford sauce (which is probably a combination of words I will regret), this wouldn’t have felt out of place in one of the latest Priest albums, as it comes complete with even a basic guitar duel.
“Seekers of the Blade” goes for the maiden jugular once more, but plenty along the ways are the marks of tribute to NY’s Riot and who the f@… am I to complain about such nice pedigree of influences that are well accumulated and not simply aped (looking at you average German or Swedish newcomer, ie Stallion etc.).
“Blood Red Cross” slows down sufficiently to be infused with some pretty melodic leads that give it a European epic air, seems to align well with its crusades related themes... (I ‘ say Warlord like and you’d say they’re Americans and you’d be right, but William Tsamis is of Greek origin and he’s got a lot of the sensibilities that come with that heritage)…
“On Ashen Wings” is more steeped in fantasy lyrically, but it manages to mix its Riot tendencies with a more Maideneque strain that again end in a hybrid that works. This time relying more than before to the chorus and leads.
“Graves of Thunder” attempts to apply the formula that works for D’Cagna elsewhere, but at a lower tempo and here, the lack of more complex percussion, means that while the effort is valiant, the results are less than stellar. The faster the tracks, the mind is tricked into not giving much thought into the arrangements being simpler, when things slow down, it becomes a little more evident that there’s not that much variety.
“Grace and Valor” doesn’t kick into high gear either, but it manages to fare a little better, with throwing biblical mottos and the like… it might also be its driving riff that makes it work better. Who knows and who cares as long as it sates the thirst…
“Night Queen” is softer, almost a ballad, if you will, but DC is able to tame his voice enough to carry it convincingly and thus it ends up as a nice conclusion to a pretty solid album, one would be hard pressed to find some glaring faults with.
I mean being one man’s vision, it’s probably the closest to what was intended, but certain performances might have been better handled by a dedicated instrumentalist. Production is vintage sounding, but clear and crisp and the songwriting is so solid that it really carries the album along with it. It does help that DC is also a capable enough – well everything. Well done!