Written by Valkyrjiaa
Iron Curtain – Metal Gladiator
> Heavy metal
> Releasing February 24
> Dying Victims Productions
If you came to tell me that these guys have been cranking out the tunes since the 70’s, I’d totally believe you. With mindblowing riffs and some gnarly vocals, the more than 15 year success of Spain’s Iron Curtain comes with ZERO surprise. Having unveiled four full lengths, and double that amount of EPs, splits, and demos, Iron Curtain forged the blade of their success in the ferocity of 80’s metal, bowing to the legendary Motörhead, as well as Tank, and Canadian metal icons like Exciter and Razor among godly greats like Iron Angel, and more.
Iron Curtain has continued to soar after their towering release of 2019’s Danger Zone, bringing us this diverse yet habitual mini-album titled Metal Gladiator. Keeping that old school feel while mixing in some surprising modern turns, this EP features three blazing new tracks, including the title track “Metal Gladiator”.
Kicking off this metal crusade is “Crossing the Acheron”, which feels like it’s the next step forward in this gladiator’s life, or rather, afterlife. Its delicate and ethereal acoustics meld with a disturbing yet tranquil aura that really sets the tone for mysterious adventure.
Of course, “Burn in Hell” follows up, one of Iron Curtain’s new tracks that blazes ahead on catchy riffs and undeniable energy. Mike Leprosy’s vocals are gritty but steady, making him an easy listen. This track is chock-full of wild guitars courtesy of Juanma Fernandez and Leprosy himself that really aid in making you want to crank this song as loud as possible. And did I mention that breaking spiral? Oh hell yeah. It twists into the bowels of hell before bursting into a fireball of scratchy strings that power that head-banging windmill all the way around.
“Rattlesnake” is another new song, coming up with Moroco’s drum intro before once more slapping you in the mouth with classic heavy metal guitars. This one is a screamer, with energy at an all time high. Giving us an armada of diverse instrumentals from Joserra’s grungy bass to the speed-heavy drums, this track gives us a buffet of Iron Curtain’s skill set with the added bonus of unstoppable vigour.
The title track “Metal Gladiator” is a ride. The fever that envelops this track is next level. It’s got the standard Iron Curtain riff that carries through this album but gets HEAVIER, but it’s that high-pitched set that really catches the ear. The distorted breakdown is maddening and as the title track it is merciless in its delivery of metal speed and skill. This is one track to really hit repeat on.
Hitting us with the throwback is 2019’s “Rough Riders” that gives new listeners a taste of Iron Curtain’s core. It’s got the catchy, speedy string work that got fans caught up, and brings intrigue to new listeners for its Motörhead-like tone and feel. Smashing through the middle of this track like an army on horseback is one hell of a blistering riff that slides upward before funneling out like a firestorm. It gives classic heavy metal fans, both new and old, everything they crave and more.
Keeping up with the old-school is the previously released “Stormbound” that hits with the heavy bass and lower vocal energy. It’s the perfect track to breakup your long summer motorcycle ride down a deserted highway. With hellish chants, kick-ass guitars, and a heavy metal beat, this one is sure to stick with new listeners, as it’s done with Iron Curtain fans from the early years.
Finishing up this mini is “The Running Man” off their Danger Zone album. The drums wind up for this one, and the musical explosion that follows is the perfect cap to this wicked ride of an album. It’s INSANELY catchy lyrically, and is a track to hit max volume for its bits and blasts of killer solos and interludes that just get the feel of this track from peaking your curiosity to “Hell yeah, this is WICKED!” If you feel like this was pulled straight off the 1987 classic film soundtrack for The Running Man featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, well, you wouldn’t be far off. Note the familiar line “But hey, will ya…will you just let me explain? / This is television, that’s all it is / It’s nothing to do with people, it’s to do with the ratings.” It’s mixed in with the killer shreds to really give this track that old school solidification, and I still can’t believe it’s originally a track from 2019!
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is a mini that really appeals to any metal listeners who love the old school heavy metal sound both musically and vocally. It hits all the right notes of nostalgia and recognition, and though Iron Curtain hasn’t hit the popularity of Maiden or Motörhead, they’re deserving all the same. It gives fans both old and new everything they crave from gritty vocals to speedy riffs and more. The title track, “Metal Gladiator”, for me, is the standout, and with the next full-length coming soon, this may just hold you over until another similar track breaks down the gates.