The trouble with having a ‘schtick’ is that you’ve gotta see it through to the end, no matter what. If you look like you ain’t fully with the programme, the illusion falls apart, and the public sees through you.

Polish headbangers Ironbound, you’ll remember, have a schtick – to sound as much like Blaze Bayley-era Iron Maiden as is humanly possible. And my word they stick to it… So in those terms you’d have to declare the band’s new album Serpent’s Kiss a success.

The band’s last album, Lightbringer, was a hugely diverting trip through the Harrisian hinterlands, chock full of galloping guitars, florid basses and pounding drums, topped off by the mannered vocals of Łukasz Krauze. Needless to say, they attempt more of the same on Serpent’s Kiss, but, with the element of surprise lost, they need to work twice as hard to sustain the returns they garnered on the debut. And unfortunately they just fall short on just about every count.

That’s not to say they don’t have their moments – The Destroyer of Worlds, Forefathers’ Rites and closer The Healer of Souls all get the job done in pretty convincing fashion – but overall Serpent’s Kiss is an album that lacks the naive charm of it’s predecessor, and doubles down by failing to up the ante song wise.

This result is a disappointment then, in as much as Ironbound is clearly a talented band in it’s own right. Michal Halamoda certainly knows how to rip up a fretboard, and his partnership with rhythm axe Krzysztof Całka is clearly a solid one; It’s therefore frustrating to hear them labouring away on mundane material like Holy Sinners when they clearly have so much more to offer.

If Ironbound keep following through on the ‘alternative Maiden’ timeline in the future, rather than spreading their musical wings a bit wider,  the only hope they’d appear to have at this point is that their next album is hopefully destined to be their Number of The Beast – here’s hoping…


Serpent’s Kiss Releases on March 15th.