A couple of years ago I was pleased to write about German speed metal legends Iron Angel, specifically their comeback album Hellbound. That record showed a band tentatively staking claim to ground ceded to a multitude of other bands after years in the heavy metal wilderness. They didn’t make all the right moves, but they did enough to suggest that they were serious about making a bid for the Teutonic speed metal Crown again.
With new album Emerald Eyes, again recorded for the Danish Mighty Music imprint, they’ve managed to get one hand back on the silverware; This is a record that truly does draw a direct line to this band’s glory days in the mid eighties, and especially their debut album Hellish Crossfire. It’s not all nostalgic stuff, however; when the band hit full speed and the twin axes of Robert Altenbach and Nino Helfrich start mixing up the thrash with a bit of tasty prog, Iron Angel prove themselves the equal of fellow veteran names like Metal Church in upping the ante and proving that they’ve been able to move a little with the times too.
Of course long term fans will still want the old sound, and the band deliver in spades on the title track especially, which rolls back the years with almost indecent haste. It’s a ripper of a track, not least because vocalist Dirk Schröder (the last remaining original member of the band) sounds as if no time at all has elapsed since Winds of War came out in 1986. If you crave a little melody, Iron Angel have you covered too, with the likes of Fierce Winds of Death and What We’re Living For both taking the trademark Teutonic anthemic sound and bending it to the Iron Angel style in bombastic fashion. Whatever style of metal they turn their hands to, this iteration of Iron Angel delivers.
Me? I’ve gotta say tracks like Sacrificed work best; here the band take all the strands introduced elsewhere and weave them into one almighty piece of uber-melodic, catchy speed metal. It’s glorious stuff, but as I say purely a matter of personal taste. Truth be told, there isn’t really a weak moment on Emerald Eyes and it’s hard to see any self-respecting headbanger doing anything other than lapping up every damn second laid in front of them. Iron Angel have found their feet again fully on this album, and now hopefully they are ready to take back that Crown…
Emerald Eyes releases on October 2nd.