Genre: Heavy Metal
Label:Gates of Hell Records
I have been following very closely the releases of IRON GRIFFIN from Finland. It was their debut, same titled EP (which was released back in 2017), that drove my attention to this band and from the very first tune I checked out (the EP’s opener “Message from Beyond”, together with its intro of course), I realized that there was something really special going on with this band. What was it? The overall artistic result that they were offering with their music, their lyrics and the atmosphere of their epic, obscure and dark sound. On the top of all these there was -and actually still is- the band’s one of a kind songwriting ability.
For those who do not know, Oskari Räsänen (also on MAUSOLEUM GATE) is actually the main man in here, handling all the instruments, while the vocals are delivered by Maija Tiljander. Since the debut album, her magnificent voice is a very important trademark for IRON GRIFFIN -on the EP Oskari was singing as well-.
The band’s long awaited “Curse of the Sky” debut full length was released back in 2019 and now it is time for their second album: It is called “Storm of Magic” and I got to point from the very first lines of this review that I am considering it as one of the most wonderful albums that I have heard lately, and yes I am not referring to any specific musical genre, “Storm of Magic” simply have managed to climb the top of my personal soundtrack standing beside various releases of various musical genres.
Through this magical album IRON GRIFFIN are actually creating an obscure realm dark fantasy, highlighting the true meaning of the tern “epic” through their music. The lyrics this time are exploring mystical and occult pathways and I got to point that they are matching perfectly with the soundscape that the band is creating in this particular album.
IRON GRIFFIN’s soundscape… A unique combination of 70s Progressive Folk, Dungeon Synth, 70s Proto-Metal, early 80s NWOBHM, Traditional & Epic Doom Metal and of course Epic Heavy Metal. All those genres are finding the way into the band’s music under a minimal obscure and almost ritualistic approaching, that generates a sound result that can only be described with one word: Magic. No no let’s use two words instead: Pure Magic.
It is getting almost obvious that the band is attempting a balanced transfer to a wider range of expressive musical forms keeping the basic elements of their sound identification. So the fanatics of the previous works can stay calm, the epic obscurity of the previous albums is still a key point in here however it is expressed through much more musical elements. Well if I consider this masterpiece as a starting point for a new creative chapter that would eventually give birth to a series of next releases, I wonder what the future will bring!
PENTAGLE, CURVED AIR, PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, RENAISSANCE and a lot other from the Progressive Folk, Psych Folk, Folk Baroque and Progressive Rock realms could be pointed as influences in here. On the other hand when the band highlights those Proto-Metal, early NWOBHM and classic Heavy Metal elements, without even loosing the connection with the 70s -especially when it comes to the keyboard touches- we can sure point groups like PAGAN ALTAR or SARCOFAGUS -the Finnish ones- as key influences. “Unholy Epistle” track can be a great example for the two above influences.
For the epic part of the music which I guess is the factor that matters to lot of the band’s initial fans, I have to point that is generated as a result of the overall themes, melodies and atmosphere of the songs. I would for sure refer to LORDIAN GUARD as a key influence in here although I have to point that the Lordian vibe is offered through a darker shade in here. I would consider “Goddess of the Moor” as the most epic moment of the album.
I already referred to the band’s overall minimal approaching as an aesthetic form on the music and while the above fact becomes very clear on tracks like “Lady of Space and Time” where the introduction keyboard theme is highlighting a crystal clear psych vibe (background bird sounds included), I think that it is this “Storm of Magic” epilogue track where the band is moving from the minimalism to a form of ritualistic music in some of the song’s parts. For example the acoustic theme that starts almost on the song’s middle -from 7:09 to 9:49- is based on a pure ritualistic form -especially on the theme’s semi final part -9:00- where the trance driving notes are clearly repeated for 20 full seconds, in the guitar and the built in vocal melody. The song also highlights some great Doom Metal riffing that balances between the traditional late 70s vibe but it would soon be the main element for the complete Epic Doom Metal parts that would be presented to front thanks to the guitar and the vocal combination. This is a huge track. One of the most magnificent pieces of music that the band have ever composed.
This garden of sound delights would be very different without the voice of Maija Tiljander. Her heavenly dark melodies, the color of her voice and her overall expression are taking the music of the music of the record to a transcending mode.
Well “Storm of Magic” could be one of those obscure Prog Folk diamonds of the early 70s but it is released 2022 by a band that got nothing more to show than talent. To me the album is a pure masterpiece, a small musical miracle. I advise you to spend some time listening to this album. You will never regret it.