By Gareth Watkins
Ah, the sounds of clashing blades and pounding hooves at the start of a traditional metal song. Young but startlingly accomplished Canadians Iron Kingdom choose to launch the sixth song on their third album with this genre staple, as sure a sign as singer Chris Osterman’s falsetto that these kids are for real.
Their days as Canada’s Got Talent contestants are behind them, and all true metal fans have sworn upon the replica swords they keep atop David Eddings [or Robert E. Howard or George R. R. Martin or J.R.R Tolkien] filled bookcases that they will speak of it no more. Iron Kingdom also evidence higher production values all round, even on their album cover (the artwork for their 2013 album Curse of the Voodoo Queen was frankly embarrassing for a few reasons). “Ride for Glory” features stories of ancient warriors both European (“Lief Erickson,” “A Call to Arms”) and from further afield (Vietnamese folk-hero Lady Trieu or Japan’s Samurai.)
The instrumentation is less diverse: with the exception of the intro and seven minute closing epic “The Veiled Knight” there’s a lot of driving, mid-tempo tracks here with a focus that remains solely on Osterman’s vocals and the story he’s telling. With a sound as laser-focused on a particular time and place as Iron Kingdom’s this isn’t a bad thing, but listeners looking for a revelation as opposed to very well done retread might want to look elsewhere.Iron Kingdom, Ride for Glory