Iron Angel - Hellish Crossfire (Marquee Records) 1985
1. "The Metallian"
Early German speed metal that reminds me of Agent Steel and Toxik. This CD was long relegated to out-or-print status and regularly sold for far more than it was worth on Ebay. Thankfully in 2004 this classic was remastered and re-released. Musically, this band is all about speed and aggression. They are not overly concerned with flash or progressive songwriting. It's all about the metal! Remember releases like "Kill 'Em All", "Feel the Fire" and "Fistful of Metal"? "Hellish Crossfire" has that same heavy metal spirit that many modern bands are missing. I wish more bands still wrote music with this attitude. Vocalist Dirk Schröder sings in a somewhat clean style, but he is also very shrill. Personally I like this about him, although I can understand how some may be put off by that sound. Along with the original 10 songs, Marquee Records also included six demo tracks. While these are a nice inclusion, these probably won't get the listening time that the rest of the CD will as they are very raw recordings. The CD reissue also has a six page, full color insert complete with a short biography and a song by song review of each of the original ten tunes.
Iron Angel - Winds Of War (Steamhammer) 1986
Without a doubt, this is one of the CDs that has been on my want list for the longest time. Iron Angel released two excellent speed metal platters in the 80's. Both saw re-issue as part of SPV's CD-Mid Price series in Germany, but were limited in quantities and went out of print and circulation rather quickly. Copies that turn up on eBay generally sell close to the $40 and $50 range. Now I just need to secure a copy of "Hellish Crossfire".
Muscially Iron Angel combine the speed and aggression of German thrash bands like Sodom and Kreator with the more melodic and controlled sound of "Walls of Jerico"-era Helloween. The first song "Metalstorm" is a full-throttle, straight-up speed metal number with screaming, helium high vocals and blazing guitar solos. On the second track "Son of a Bitch" the band hits more of a groove that reminds me slightly of Accept and definitely has Helloween influences. (This is not a cover of Accept's "Son of a Bitch" by the way, although that would have been cool.) "Vicious" is as the title implies, heavy, screaming thrash metal. "Fight For Your Life" continues in the same speed metal mode, with a sing along gang chorus that repeats the title several times. "FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE." "Born to Rock" is an anthem with a very memorable chorus and some almost Iron Maiden influenced guitar parts. "Stronger than Steel" continues in the Walls of Jerico-era Helloween mode. Once again, the choruses all have that sing along quality. "Sea of Flames" and "Creatures of Destruction" likewise have that anthemic quality laid on top of a wall of speed metal sounds. The disc finished off with a melodic outro piece "Back to the Silence". Overall, another quality speed metal release. Iron Angel successfully combined the speed and aggression of thrash with the melody of 80's power metal helped along by the memorable gang choruses and Dirk Schröder's helium high vocals. Should also make mention that Jürgen R. Blackmore, the son of Ritchie Blackmore, was guest guitarist on "Winds of War".