Iron Mask
Hordes of the Brave


5.0
classic

Review

by giantproof USER (5 Reviews)
July 31st, 2013 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Iron Mask's sophomore release is an absolute monster of neoclassical power metal. There's plenty of aggression, technical riffing, strong vocal performances, and variety to keep even the most ADD of tastes satisfied.

If there’s one thing you should know about Iron Mask, it’s that Yngwie Malmsteen has never sounded this good, except perhaps on Rising Force, but let’s face it, that was roughly 30 years ago and Iron Mask frontman, Dushan Petrossi, is a lot more focused on writing songs that are consistently good and distinct from one another. Having said that, yes, the 80s vibes are at times present; yes, the unabashed solos stick out brazenly; yes, the rhythm sections are (overtly) technical; and yes, the choruses are infectious as hell (but you’ll love them for it). And to round it all off, yes, the album is amazing from start to finish.

Why? Because Dushan Petrossi knows what the hell he is doing. To start off, it helps to point out his choice of vocal presence: Goetz “Valhalla Jr.” Mohr and Oliver Hartmann, both of whom “duet” in some cases but it’s so manly you could shed a man tear or two. Mohr has a gruff, almost guttural voice without a single falsetto inclination, whereas Hartmann is soothing and emotional, similar to Jorn Lande, and the pairing couldn’t be more tasteful.

This vocal duality adds a lot of manliness to the neoclassical and technical riffing that permeates the album so incessantly. Not to say the music is flowery, but it certainly needs a strapping vocal performance to avoid a sound that could be considered too flamboyant. Petrossi apparently knows this, too, and has written very solid and engaging rhythms and solos that actually fit into the songs. There is a lot of interest and variety to be found on Hordes of the Brave, and for much of the album there is a unifying theme of aggression that most neoclassical bands simply choose to avoid.

Holy War makes that very apparent. It’s relentlessly aggressive, shoving a fast, thundering, and constantly changing rhythm down your throat, followed by an equally aggressive yet melodic chorus that you’ll never forget. Stylistically, it’s not too dissimilar from Rhapsody’s shift on Power of the Dragonflame, but Petrossi always keeps the focus on the guitars and the vocals. The lyrics are also pretty interesting and intelligently written, which combined with Mohr’s singing, make for a very powerful track. Freedom’s Blood follows the same path, but it’s more upbeat with slightly more noticeable keyboard underpinnings, but again, it’s got unyielding speed, with punchy and very fitting lyrics to match.

Things do slow down, though, here and there, usually when Hartmann commands the vocal lead, but it can’t be said enough how poetic his voice is. Petrossi seems to have catered these songs to Hartmann, because the pacing is markedly more melodic and the aggression is toned down significantly. The effect would be the “beauty” contrasting to the “beast” that is mostly present on the album and it makes for a refreshing, yet just as fluid, momentum.

Another “beauty” moment would be My Eternal Flame, which actually features Mohr on vocals. The rhythms and leads are emotionally stirring and smartly draw out for extended periods, but the true elegance of the track lies in its simplicity. I like to think of this song as the centerpiece to the album since you can really sense a lot of passion from Petrossi, without reliance on fast or technical showcase of guitar skill. He’s simply playing from the heart.

And to be honest, that really does sum up the entire album, and for that matter, Petrossi’s songwriting. He’s a talented musician, which is indeed an understatement, but he’s also very aware of what works and what doesn’t and he makes very smart decisions when it comes to songwriting and vocal presence. You could even say that he makes neoclassical relevant again, which is quite a feat considering the genre’s tendency towards homogeneity. Needless to say, Hordes of the Brave is a booming achievement in today’s saturated metal catalog and should not be missed.


user ratings (6)
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4.3
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Mister Twister
July 31st 2013


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Album rules, glad to see you've reviewed this as well. Props and auto-pos.

Mister Twister
July 31st 2013


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

If you're looking for a different neo-classical band to listen to, I would recommend Majestic. They are my personal favorite band of all time. Go drop a 5 on both albums :D

giantproof
July 31st 2013


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice, thanks! Somehow I've missed them but their albums are expensive now. It's nice to see that Apollo Papathanasio was singing for an album. Btw, one of my favorite bands was Lost Horizon. They're in a similar vein as Blind Guardian and Savage Circus but somehow they're more boisterous. Amazing stuff.

Mister Twister
July 31st 2013


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I have a friend who is a huge fan of Lost Horizon, I know about them. They're pretty awesome too, but I absolutely love Majestic. Both of their albums are just amazing in my eyes. I even wrote a review for their first one, which I do kind of prefer.

Mister Twister
July 31st 2013


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I've said to hell with it. This is a 5. This is better than Black as Death, I just don't want to re-write that review.

I still prefer both albums by Majestic though, so you should go drop a 5 on both of those. Please? :D

giantproof
July 31st 2013


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yes! You submitted to the overwhelming amazigness of Hordes. I would love to but their CDs are expensive!

Mister Twister
August 1st 2013


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fear not, both albums can be found on YouTube in their entirety. I do see on Discogs that Abstract Symphony is around 15 bucks, and Trinity Overture is as low as around 7. Maybe try there if you don't want to search online for them.

You should still 5 them tho :D

giantproof
August 5th 2013


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Haha, hmm, based off what I heard, a 5 isn't what I'd give it! It's good but I don't know. YouTube isn't a fair way to judge something anyway!

Mister Twister
August 5th 2013


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

GIVE IT A 5 OR I NEG YOUR REVIEWS D:

Nah, but just wondering, which tracks did you listen to?

giantproof
August 7th 2013


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Oh geez, I forgot. I just checked I'll Shoot the Moon and that song's pretty kick-ass. Lots of keyboards, it seems! Apollo sounds quite a bit different on Trinity Overture, doesn't he?

giantproof
August 7th 2013


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The chorus on Voodoo Treasures sounds similar to Glory of Rome from Avantasia.

Mister Twister
August 7th 2013


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Apollo wasn't the vocalist on Abstract Symphony, that was Jonas Blum. You should still go drop a rating on their albums though, whatever you think a fitting rating might be.

but if its below a 4 ill find you

I've also been told by FrozenVain that Voodoo Treasure also sounds like Of Sins and Shadows by Symphony X, which is something I hadn't noticed. I still love the song though. Entire band is awesome.

giantproof
August 7th 2013


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I meant Apollo sounds different than on his more recent work in Firewind. I see the similarity to Symphony X now that I'm listening to it. Very close! Crazy!

Mister Twister
August 7th 2013


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ah. He does seem to sing generally lower with Richard Andersson's work than in Firewind. Since he departed Firewind, maybe we might see a third album? :o

Really though, you should go rate those albums really well :c

giantproof
August 8th 2013


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

All right, all right, haha! I'll try to run Trinity Overture through YouTube a few times so I can be as objective as possible, but the material is pretty impressive so far ;) I think I prefer Trinity over the first one, though....

Mister Twister
August 8th 2013


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That seems to be general consensus thus far, but I do prefer Abstract Symphony, though I probably couldn't explain why. Meh, I know some people prefer Tortured Existence over Epidemic of Violence for Demolition Hammer, but they're both stellar. Same thing goes here, IMO.

giantproof
August 9th 2013


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Time Bomb is also good but not better than their first two. I just love .44 Caliber Brain Surgery. Btw, if you like Demolition Hammer you might want to check out Hypnosia (from Sweden). They're not around anymore, but around 2000-01 they released their only lp, Extreme Hatred, which is totally brutal thrash that kicks ass. One of those rare gems very few people know about.

Mister Twister
August 9th 2013


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Most people dislike Time Bomb since they jumped on the groove bandwagon.

I'll be sure to check out Hypnosia, thanks for the recommendation.

Mister Twister
September 17th 2013


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Been listening to this so much lately. The Invisible Empire is so good.

giantproof
September 19th 2013


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Anything with Oliver Hartmann is good ;) Well, maybe except his solo band....



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