While Ironflame’s third album keeps to their established power metal template, the execution feels slightly more aggressive this time around. It’s especially apparent in the rhythm section as the drums hit harder, and the guitar tone is meaner with even faster-galloping patterns. This is further reinforced by the songwriting, which is closer to the punchy spirit of 2017’s Lightning Strikes the Crown than the grandiosity of 2018’s Tales of Splendor and Sorrow.
Of course, the band’s priorities remain focused on melody even when they’re going for the throat. Just about every song on here features plenty of soaring guitar harmonies, and the vocal lines are commanding even with the more intense riff patterns surging under them. There’s also still room for more easygoing fare with “Graves of Thunder” setting its upbeat chug to less unhinged speeds and “Night Queen” (Not to be confused with “Shadow Queen” off the debut) putting in more mid-tempo steadiness.
With all these elements in mind, I must admit that the compositions on Blood Red Victory can feel rather basic at times. Songs like the opening “Gates of Evermore” and “Seekers of the Blade” are very to the point as the linear structures are based around rapid-fire verses and held out choruses. Fortunately, there are still hints of ambitions throughout as the title track’s jaunty guitar motif recalls early 2000s Maiden while “Grace and Valor” offers some busy drumming to go along with the stirring melodies.
Ironflame’s third album offers what is essentially more of the same, but it’s not much of a problem when they’re so damned good at what they do. I personally prefer the broader scope on Tales of Splendor and Sorrow, but the enhanced aggression keeps this album from feeling like a step back, and the songs never feel dumbed down thanks to their impactful hooks. If you’re a fan of classic metal that hasn’t been introduced to the ways of Ironflame, this is as good a place to start as any!
“Seekers of the Blade”
“Blood Red Cross”
“Graves of Thunder”
“Grace and Valor”