Iron Mask

Album Title: 
Fifth Son Of Winterdoom
Release Date: 
Friday, November 8, 2013
Review Type: 

As many of you will know by now, Iron Mask is the more popular side-project of Belgian Neo-Classical Power Metal guitarist Dushan Petrossi (of Magic Kingdom), formed in 2002 (with MK bassist Vassili Moltchanov also joining in the band, Youri De Groote behind the keyboards, and Phil Letaw as lead singer) and for which Petrossi signed to Finnish label Lion Music.

Originally a purely Belgian affair as far as membership was concerned, the project's first release, 2002's Revenge Is My Name already turned out more popular than Magic Kingdom, sales-wize. For the follow-up album, 2005's Hordes Of The Brave (also on Lion Music; album was re-issued in the July of 2012, and reviewed, a second time, by yours truly), the band took Goetz Mohr (known from Arrow, Hanz Damf and Rolf Munkes) as their lead singer, and used Oliver Hartmann (whom had not only previously guested on MK albums, but was already known from his collaborations with Aina, Edguy, At Vance, Avantasia, Freedom Call, and Helloween, as well as garnered some reputation as a solo artist) as guest singer on three songs, while renowned keyboardist Richard Andersson (Majestic, Time Requiem, Space Oddysey, Karmakanic, etc...) was hired for all keyboard duties. Several concerts to promote the album were done throughout Europe, touring with Canadian bands Anvil and Phantom X. Shows were filmed, and as a result Iron Mask contributed to the documentary film Anvil! The Story Of Anvil. Third album, 2010's Shadow Of The Red Baron would be the last on Lion Music (review by yours truly again). Work on the album was delayed due to a death in Petrossi's family throwing the musician back somewhat. Vocals were again performed by Mohr, with one song being done by Hartmann (whom also performed backing vocals on the album), and the more extreme vocals on the album being done by MK's Roma Sladletski (again, I should say, because he also did that on Hordes Of The Brave). Bass was still performed by Moltchanov, but keyboards were this time done by Andreas Lindahl (Wuthering Heights, The Murder Of My Sweet, Narnia, Audiovision, Loch Vostok, manticora, etc...) and drums were handled by Erik Stout (of Vengeance, Joe Stump and Daize Shayne repute). As Mohr was already in health problems back then, the band was forced to hire Carsten Schulz (of Domain, Altaria, Eden's Curse, etc...) as their singer for their appearance at June 2010's Graspop Metal Meeting. Other line-up changes included the inclusion of drummer Ramy Ali (of Freedom Call, Kiske/ Somerville, Evidence One and State Of Rock fame) and keyboardist Philippe Giordana (Magic Kingdom, Fairyland, Kerion). The latter being hired due to Lindahl's other contractual obligations. Still, when the band returned to the stage in December that same year (for the Belgian Frostrock festival), it was with that same line-up.

End of an era, beginning of a new. Two important changes: the band announced that a new album would find the use of 2 former Yngwie Malmsteen singers Mark Boals (of Royal Hunt and Ring Of Fire repute) and Göran Edman (also known from Karmakanic, Brazen Abbot, Time Requiem, etc...). Mats Olausson (of Ark, Evil Masquerade and John Norum fame, but also once of Yngwie Malmsteen) would take care of the keyboards. However, that was not the second important change, fact, that was the band's signing to AFM Records on which Black As Death was to be released in Dec. 2011 (to my regret, it would also be the first Iron Mask album I was not to review myself, the job relegated to a colleague). By the way, bonus tracks (one on the limited edition European digipak, another on the limited double LP, vinyl being a first for the band, after numerous demands from the fans) would feature Goetz Mohr on lead vocals. A video for the track “God Punishes, I Kill” was released in late May 2012, and followed-up with a couple of shows in July.

By September 2012, Petrossi had already put the ideas for the band's 5th album into music. For recordings, which starrted in early April 2013, he again relied on a band he already knew, including Moltchanov on the bass, Lindahl on the keyboards, Ali on the drums, and Mark Boals for the lead vocals. With recordings done and waiting for mastering (by Jens Borgen, and at the Fascination Street Studios) in mid July, the band took for the road to play venues and festivals in Holland, Belgium and Germany early that same month.  Late September already found an announcement for the release of the album, with a limited 2-LP vinyl release (including two exclusive bonus tracks) to boot (and already made available for pre-order). In the info I've gotten from the label, there's talk about the video for “God Punishes, I Kill” being included as a bonus...I guess that would be for the limited edition digipak version then!?

Regretfully, the audio/video material posted at the band's website (www) does nót include stuff from the new album, so you may well have to depend on the 30-second samples usually made available by your trusted download sales sites for an insight in the new album, which as usual finds the band in a very varied mode, going from heartfelt balladesque (“Father Farewell” finding Dushan dealing with his father's death, last year) and straight-ahead Rockers (album opening “Back Into Mystery” and “Angel Eyes, Demon Soul”) to more epic (and slightly longer) tracks (the album's title track and album closer “The Picture Of Dorian Grey”). Still, it's all very typically Iron Mask overall, and also very enjoyable, as per usual!