Iron Mask – “Master Of Masters”

Iron Mask – “Master Of Masters” (AFM Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Iron Mask, the Belgian symphonic power metal maestros are back with their seventh album – and guess what, they’ve got a new vocalist! By now becoming a regular feature of this band, new boy this time around is Mike Slembrouck (After All, Immanent Distance), but dare one ask if he’ll be there for the next release?! Still, what matters is that he’s got the pipes, and I’d expect nothing less from the perfectionist standard set by guitarist composer Dushan Petrossi, who of course, formed Iron Mask back in 2002. Besides that, there’s not been a lot of change as perhaps one might expect, a tad formulaic some might say, but I’m sure the fans of the band would reply that continuity is exactly what they crave from Petrossi & co, with little – if any – interference to their winning style of deep power metal melodies, epic grandeur and neoclassical brilliance! “Master Of Masters” does nothing to disappoint in that regard, with 12 stirring tracks abundant in their catchiness as well as their alluring passion, and all performed by star musicians including acclaimed drummer Ramy Ali (Freedom Call, Kiske / Somerville, Serious Black etc etc). Indeed, there’s little to deny the music’s power as the hard rock with a Moscow flair comes streaming in on ‘Revolution Rise’, led by Slembrouck showing off his vocal range before Petrossi’s virtuoso guitar of speedy neo-classical breaks stamps the Iron Mask trademark in once more. Bringing in the concerto splendour on the 9 minute ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’, fast fluid symphonic axework and double bass drums backed by operatic choirs are contrasted dramatically by beautiful folk melodies and Slembrouck’s soul, enticing you to sing along to the joy abundant in the song’s incredible uplift. Opening to a delicate piano, the deep guitar riffs pour in the emotion to Slembrouck’s soul on the slower ‘ Dance With The Beast’, which is a definite heart stealer as the chorus peaks, although the way the passion carries through the entirety of the song is a testament to Petrossi’s composing prowess. And it doesn’t stop there by any means as the guitars wail and squeal ceaselessly on ‘My One And Only’ in accompaniment to Slembrouck’s highs that keep your heart pounding with red blooded love until the epic title track finale of ‘Master Of Masters’, where they take on Dio-like proportions backed by power riffs, big drums and glorious choirs with church bells clanging in bringing to an end another stupendous release from Iron Mask. These boys never fail……
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