Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Review: Iron Mask – Master of Masters

Label: AFM Records

Date: December 4th, 2020

If you are working on an ambitious project as “Master of Masters” is, or overall Iron Mask opus, then four years is a reasonable period of time to dedicate.

Iron Mask is always surprising us, there is no constant, no safe harbor, they are always changing, progressing. The first and the most obvious change on the new album is new vocalist, Mike Slembrouck. Unfortunately that is the field where there is no space left for surprises, since from the beginning of time Iron Mask has been struggling with the stable line up. One is for sure, Dushan seems to have very demanding standards, and sets the bar of perfectionism higher and higher. I will not debate if Mike is the best Iron Mask’s singer, but for sure, his performance suits me the best.

Before I received the album, three singles were already launched (“Tree of the World”, September 25th; “One Against All”, October 23rd; “Wild and Lethal”, November 13th), and when I finally got the album, I just could not stop listening to it. Even today.  There is a certain fear that you are going to be sick and tired after so much listening, but each spin brings something new to discover, and diversity is the key. This album will surely stay in your CD player for a long time.

Neoclassical metal features very technical playing, which is without a doubt Dushan′s great quality and band′s advantage. But, neoclassical style is not the only one represented on this album, which gives the beauty to the whole project. Both, classical heavy metal (“Revolution Rise”, “One Against All”, “Wild and Lethal”) and power metal (“My One and Only”, “Dance with the Beast”, “Never Kiss the Ring”) are involved too.

Dushan relies on Nordic and Slavic folklore. Maybe the best noticeable Slavic folklore elements are woven into the words of the song “Tree of the World” which goes in the direction of Oden Organ. The song glorifies Svarog, (″Holy Father of all gods, creator of all we know”), who was a creator god who ruled the sky and fathered the gods of fire and sun, before retiring to indolence and turning the ruling of the universe over to his two sons. 

Oliver Hartmann who has already been involved in Iron Mask′s projects is a guest at “Revolution Rise” that enriches the album.

I am quite sure I could write a book based on this album instead of a review, which is a result of my excitement each time I discover something new on it. But, in short lines…

For all of you for whom the band is synonymous with neoclassical metal, focus on “Nothing Lasts Forever” and a short instrumental, “Sagittarius A”.

If you like complexity then pay attention to Mist of Loch Ness, again short instrumental “Sagittarius A” which overflows into “Master of Masters” that goes in the direction of Iron Maiden.

“Never Kiss the Ring”, brings the extra excitement dancing on the edge of neoclassical, heavy and power metal.

For ballad lovers the band prepared “One Against All” and beautiful “A Mother Loves Blue” which will dissolve even the stone cold ones.

Besides perfectionist virtuoso, Mr. Petrossi, Mr. Ramy Ali will treat you with powerful drumming, Mr. Vassili Moltchanov will spice a bit with his bass lines, and Mr. Slembrouck will deliver a fascinating vocal performance. iI you add profound lyrics on well composed songs, grandiose guitar solos, big orchestral parts, epic choruses, and catchy melodies, you have heavy artillery.

As it was not enough, another Dushan, this time Markovic, hits right in the target with cover art that makes this whole package remarkable. The cover art depicts perfectly the state of the world we are living.

At the end, I will single out some verses that left a strong impression on me.

“Never Kiss the Ring”: I never listen to anyone, the path I take is my own choice… 

“Revolution Rise”: Open your eyes and control your destiny… Centuries of domination must come to an end… Now is the time this is our life, the house is burning to the ground, rise revolution rise… 

“One Against All”: I walk alone and I fight one against all this is my fate I will carry my holy cross one against all…

“Dance with the Beast”: I can see the lies within, all these fools pretending to be good, sometimes evil doesn’t look how you think it does…

Wild and Lethal”: Don’t try to tell me lies, I see betrayal in your eyes, deceiver deeds can never hide, don’t play with fire, cause I’m wild and lethal… 

A lot of bands surprised us at the end of a year with their albums and just when I thought I could recapitulate and close the year with the best one, Iron Mask won the competition. I absolutely agree with Dushan Petrossi that this is the best Iron Mask album. I will add the album of the year.

 In one sentence describing Iron Mask in 2020: king of all kings, master of masters.