Iron Griffin is the project band of Mausoleum Gate’s drummer Oskari Räsänen. Hailing from Finland, Räsänen has followed in the footsteps of some of music’s greats and has played each of the instruments himself aswell as recording and mixing the EP. Hell, he even did the cover artwork! Admittedly, Räsänen called on the assistance of session singer Toni Pentikäinen for vocals but we’ll let him off with that.
This is difficult to place in any specific genre as the five tracks move uniquely between early Sabbath influences to some more melodic work with a dash of Manowar to keep things hairy and old-school. Räsänen’s approach falls from his wish to develop as an artist and I’d say he has done so with an honesty and authenticity worthy of acknowledgement.
The EP opens with a keyboard intro that instantly reminds the listener of a 16 bit 80s fantasy arcade game soundtrack or indeed something Vangelis would produce. It sets the scene well for what is to come.
The production is best described as raw as Räsänen has focused on the material rather than production values. The Lo-Fi style creates a dark atmosphere in itself and actually provokes nostalgia for the early work of the bands we know and love. ‘Message From Beyond’ is a case in point where the simple guitar intro leads into an up-tempo gallop with melodic lines and a thumping rhythm. It’s not polished but it works. The bridge is pure 70s rock. There’s maybe even a bit of 1974 Queen in there.
‘Metal Conquest’ and ‘Journey to the Castle of King’ are musically more accomplished and follow more traditional structures with the same bombast of the opening tracks. The guitar work is refreshingly deconstructed but can be slightly laboured in search of the hook. That said, it’s melodic and my head was moving along with the tracks. The closing bars of ‘Journey to the Castle of King’ could easily have been written by Iommi and did I hear a dinner gong in the fade?
The closing track ‘Lord Inquisitor’ has an air of earliest Maiden when they too were raw and chased the song. This is the stand out track for me and has structure and energy with powerful soaring vocals. The power backing vocals during the slowed bridge do sound like they were bellowed by a group of baying Vikings. Never a bad thing in my view!
Räsänen is clearly motivated and has courage in taking on a project like this. That courage is rewarded with a decent stab at a powerful metal album with a consistent style and strong acknowledgment of his influences. If you like your metal slick and shiny, this won’t be for you but if you like something a bit different – then this is worth a listen.
Perhaps we will see this talented drummer build a band around him and take to the stage. I’d go see them.
Iron Griffin are signed with Gates of Hell Records and the four-song EP is available on 12” mini-LP and cassette. You can find it at – https://irongriffin.bandcamp.com/
And you can follow the band at - https://www.facebook.com/irongriffinmetal/
Message From Beyond
Journey to the Castle of King