A Call to Irons – Review

A Call to Irons

A Tribute to Iron Maiden (Dwell)
by Scott Hefflon

Dwell likes these concept comps, and A Call to Irons is probably their best yet. Eleven Iron Maiden classics spanning the years covered by contemporary underground bands ranging from neo-powermetal to traditional growl-and-snort death metal to avant doom. Surprisingly, I like the warbly-voiced stuffed shirts a lot, but the heavily atmospheric approach of such bands as Morgion (“To Tame A Land”), Evoken (“Strange World”), and Opera IX (“Rime of the Ancient Mariner”) are the real finds here. Such epic songs could not be covered by the timid, and these bands are anything but. Surprisingly, Dwell didn’t include contact info on this release as they usually do, but many of these bands are worth looking into. Production is rich and expressive, much like Maiden’s was, and it really shows off one very obvious fact: metal musicians are usually extremely talented (or can hide their sloppy-handedness with effects) and the real hindrance lies in the limitations of the singer. But even Maiden ran into that. (Hell, even diehard fans have a guilty chuckle over memories of Dickinson putting a sneakered foot on a monitor, raising open palm to the heavens as if offering an invisible apple to the gods, and bellowing something as charmingly inane as “Yeah, a-yeah, a-yeah, hallowed be thy name.”) Great range, one style.

A Call to Irons opens with “Ides of March/Purgatory” by Steel Prophet (powermetal), leads into “Powerslave” by Ancient Wisdom (doom/black), followed by “The Trooper” by Vital Remains (whose impressive guitarwork doesn’t mesh with the single note the vocalist grunts, although I must admit I chuckle every time I hear the “whoa, whoa-oh”s converted into a single “Arrrg!” if you know what I’m saying). “Genghis Khan” by Angel Corpse returns to the if-Rush-played-metal virtuosity that made Maiden, and, to my surprise, “Hallowed be thy Name” by Solitude Aeturnus is probably one of my favorites on the disc. I seem to recall pegging SA as yet another Fates Warningesque band (which Fates Warning themselves now are), yet perhaps it’s simply that “Hallowed be they Name” is probably one of the most darkly beautiful, dramatic Iron Maiden songs of all (“Children of the Damned” is right up there, and while not on this disc, check out Therion’s cover on a’arab zaraq lucid dreaming). “Phantom of the Opera” by New Eden (powermetal) smokes through guitar phrases every metalhead is required to memorize before earning their embroidered backpatch. “Remember Tomorrow” by Opeth (sounding rather powermetal), and the chaotic “Transylvania” by Absu (impossible to tell) close out this disc.

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