by Ana Krunic
VANCOUVER – Many a fledgling metalhead got their start in the fundamentals of the genre through bands like Iron Maiden, seeing Eddie’s snarled face on a t-shirt, or maybe hearing Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” at a party. Not to mention the large percentage of us that have drunkenly sung along to our fair share of Manowar songs in our youth (and, hell, to this very day!). Raucous, often theatrical, but still accessible, traditional heavy metal has survived past the ‘70s and ‘80s to enjoy a massive resurgence in recent years, bringing us the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal (NWOTHM). In Canada alone, we’ve seen Cauldron, Skull Fist, and Striker succeed internationally, and now the lower mainland has its own contender in Surrey’s Iron Kingdom.
Formed in 2011, Iron Kingdom’s melody-heavy, fantastically-themed songwriting hits all the marks you’d want in a NWOTHM group, a move away from the ever-growing doom and death metal heaviness of the past couple decades, and a move back towards the roots of the genre.
“A big part of what saw [frontman] Chris and I get together in high school was a genuine love for the ‘70s and ‘80s when it came to music and aesthetics,” says founding member and bassist Leighton Holmes. “In the early days, blissfully unaware of what was going on around us, we dreamt of a resurgence of the glory days of metal – a return to how it was before the race to the bottom, before everyone tried to really outdo each other in terms of heaviness. I like some of the extreme genres of metal, but I really love the musicianship, storytelling, and song craft of the NWOBHM bands and power metal bands that followed suit. For us, it’s all about making the music we want to hear as diehard metalheads.”
They’ve enjoyed a pretty heavy touring schedule since the release of their 2011 debut, Curse of the Voodoo Queen. They’ve hit North America, Brazil and Europe in the past few years, with no plans to sit around anytime soon. Iron Kingdom returns to the local stage to headline the first night of Hyperspace Metalfest, sharing the weekend with a slew of western Canadian and American heavy/power metal acts.
“In honour of the fifth anniversary of [our second LP] Gates of Eternity, we’re going to be performing the whole album front to back, and I’m incredibly pumped to see how people respond,” says Holmes. “It’s been pretty awesome rehearsing this set because it’s really given me that opportunity to think about the songs, specifically the lyrics, with a completely different frame of reference after five years.”
Since they plan on staying relatively local this year to lay the groundwork for their next album, Holmes says that playing a local festival like Hyperspace Metalfest is an opportunity to look back on the material that saw them on their first major tours while still marching onward.
“We’re really excited to share this album with the people who have supported us from the beginning, as well as people who may be seeing us for the first time. We’re really looking forward to Hyperspace – we get to do what we love with a bunch of friends all sharing in the great gift called metal.”
Iron Kingdom headlines day one of Hyperspace Metal Festival at the Rickshaw Theatre on April 13.hyperspace metal festival, Iron Kingdom, Rickshaw Theatre