Review: Iron Mask “Master Of Masters” [AFM Records]

Review: Iron Mask “Master Of Masters” [AFM Records]

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Iron Mask was formed in 2002 as a side-project of Magic Kingdom‘s virtuoso guitarist Dushan Petrossi, but at some point it turned to a full band. Their last album Diabolica was released in 2016; then Iron Mask went to a long tour and changed a vocalist another time. Now, with complete line-up the band present a new album named Master Of Masters.

Frequent line-up changes were inherent for Iron Mask for a long time, to be honest. The band’s core was formed only in 2010, consisting of drummer Ramy Ali, bassist Vassili Moltchanov and of course Dushan Petrossi. In 2019 vocalist Mike Slembrouck (After All, Immanent Distance) joined the band and musicians went to studio to record the best material, according to Dushan, he ever wrote.

12 songs of Master Of Masters are blending Heavy Metal, Power and Neo-Classic with amazing melodies, long virtuoso solos and great rhythm section. Add here orchestral arrangements and awesome choirs and you’ll get the full picture of this music.

Probably, the best examples of it are the opening “Never Kiss The Ring” and monumental nine minutes long “Nothing Lasts Forever”. The first one starts with choirs, which further changed with fast riffs and potent drums that interwoven greatly with symphony, reminding Rhapsody Of Fire but without some unnecessary pretentiousness. The song is also embellished with rapid chorus, folky bridge and great solo. “Nothing Lasts Forever”, in its turn, takes the fast pace from the start and doesn’t reduces it during the whole song. Dushan’s playing is really impressive – that’s the Neo-Classic as it should be. Choirs and symphony appear one more time in rousing chorus, adding some depth but the main things here are melody and fast pace; blast beats can be also heard here from time to time.

“Revolution Rise” and “One Against All” sound more like Heavy Metal, not so “standard” though – maybe because of their main melodies or vocal lines. Mike Slembrouck lowers his voice, adding some rasp, while Dushan delivers some interesting solos, not so Neo-Classic but obviously technical and melodic. Some keyboards added in “One Against All” chorus, which makes it sound like 80s Metal. “Wild And Lethal” also starts in Heavy way but some technical riffs, solos and aerial synths (in a form of lot of little bells) make this music interesting and diverse, keeping the melody and catchiness. Mike also surprised here in some moments.

The most atmospheric piece in this album is “Mist Of Loch Ness”: vast orchestral samples escalate, creating a mystery and a bit dark atmosphere. Symphony is on the forefront here and not the guitars and drums and the song sounds really heavy because of it also. With this, “Mist Of Loch Ness” has a great melodism and expectedly technical solo.

“My One And Only” together with “Dance With The Beast” are rather Power Metal, albeit you can hear some Neo-Classic elements as well – smooth verses with powerful riffs, double pedal and some keyboards for the atmosphere. “Dance With The Beast” starts slowly, like a Power Metal ballad, increasing tempo gradually, while “My One And Only” is fast-paced from the start until the end. However, there is a ballad here too – sad and poignant “A Mother Loved Blue” with strident solo and a little female spoken word.

The self-titled “Master Of Masters” that ends the album, seamlessly derives from short gloomy interlude “Sagittarius A”. Saturated sound, rhythmical riffs, dark atmosphere and pathos create a great ending of this album.

I can’t fully agree with Dushan when he says that this is his best material he ever wrote because previous albums were good too. Nevertheless, Iron Mask hold the high-raised bar, blending splendid techniques with catchy melodies. Power Metal and Neo-Classic fans should never miss this album!

Master Of Masters will be released on December, 4th via AFM Records.

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