Review: Iron Griffin – Curse of the Sky

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The past is alive in Finland, and Iron Griffin are the proof. Formed as a side project of Mausoleum Gate’s Oscar Razanez, and now expanded to include new vocalist Maija Tiljander, Iron Griffin sound right out of the ‘70s with everything from their warm, gorgeous production job to the singing to the dreamy riffs. The actual songwriting is meaty, full of the same pounding rhythms that brought heavy metal to the forefront of the public consciousness in the first place, but they never try to be as mean as a lot of the later bands did. There are no sections of sharp aggression, and even Deep Purple type galloping sections tend more towards the mood of a faster Pagan Altar rather than towards the fierier Purple material. Slower and doomier sections make up a lot of it, but the quicker ones offset it nicely; even where some of the songs tend to drone a bit together, the effect is more along the lines of a long, pleasant journey rather than a slog.

Atmosphere is the real place that Iron Griffin succeeds; as much as the individual riffs are mostly really good, none of them are mind blowing by themselves. The songwriting and flow is really what carries the record, alongside the beautiful and compelling vocal lines. The vocals really deserve a paragraph of their own- when they need to bite a little harder to complement a heavier section, they absolutely do, but a lot of the record has the singing taking a gentler approach that adds to the dreamy vibe that I love so much here. Parts that barely even rock, let alone approach metal, let Maija’s range out a bit more, showing that she can do a lot more than just wail, and the seamless transition between more ballsy material and the more emotional proves that the band isn’t some nostalgic, half-assed retro throwback- Iron Griffin are the real fucking deal.

For some closing thoughts, I really like the artwork of the album (presumably, like the debut EP, drawn by Oscar himself). The aesthetic of this band is totally on point, and while aesthetic doesn’t influence if I’ll dig an album it sure as hell helps me decide if I want to have a record in my collection- and this one is a must-buy for me. Though I’m sure some will be disappointed by the length, I think the overall flow of the material lends itself well to cutting off at half an hour instead of trying to force out another song. Though I’m sure some will label this band as an extension of Mausoleum Gate, I firmly believe that Iron Griffin have found their own place in the heavy metal world with “Curse of the Sky.”

Pre-order the album at their bandcamp below, and follow Iron Griffin on Facebook here.

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