Danish Power Metallers Iron Fire present their ninth album “Beyond The Void”. Anyone who has heard the band (whether a fan or not) at any point in their nearly 20 year career will know that you can dip into any of their 9 albums and know pretty much what you are going to get – straight edged, honest Power Metal with traditional, thrash and melodic elements. Whether knowing what to expect from the band is a good or bad thing probably depends on what you want to take from the experience – an old pair of trainers are generally more comfortable than shiny new ones after all.

Having reviewed the band’s previous release “Among The Dead” and admittedly being a little underwhelmed by the experience, it was with a little trepidation I embarked on this new one. Approaching it with the opinion of expecting more of the same rather than anything strikingly different certainly helped (I hadn’t heard the band for many years before my previous review and was surprised to hear that they sounded very similar to my much earlier tasting), but this time I was expecting a continuation in style from “Among The Dead”. And it is. Hurrah!

That’s the point really, Iron Fire give their existing fans what they want. They’ve spent many years and plenty of albums developing a high energy, power/speed metal sound that they are now known for. They might not attract many new fans, but who knows? There are plenty of young power metal fans out there just discovering their favourite bands – and Iron Fire are certainly not going to lose any existing fans as they always deliver – never a weak album, just Iron Fire! It’s familiar, but the discerning listener will pick out the odd element of note. The bands power metal moments strike a chord with me the most as I personally feel this is their strength – ‘Cold Chains Of The North’ is positively dripping with Running Wild influence (as are parts of ‘Old Habits Die Hard’, which adds a dash of Orden Ogan), ‘Bones and Gasoline’ blends Edguy with Rage, ‘The Devil’s Path’ has a feel of Rawhead Rexx crossed with Iron Savior and ‘One More Bullit’ reminds me a little of Dezperadoz.

Actually, looking at the album as a whole I reckon Iron Fire have got the balance just about right this time. The thrash and speed elements are used for maximum effect, the vocals aren’t trying to do too much (like they were on the previous album) and the songs themselves seem to have a kind of power/speed metal base which they then expand upon rather than laying out the direction of the track from the outset – I like it! On the whole a more cohesive and concentrated release from these Danish stalwarts and a great representation of what they do best – long may they continue.

(7.5/10 Andy Barker)