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IRON ANGEL - Hellbound

Release date May 4/18 (Mighty Music)

Banzai records here in Canada used to include a speed metal icon on extreme metal album covers in the mid-eighties to grab metal heads' attention. The strategy obviously worked as I was one of those who would pick up a release solely on this insignia ... including the 1985 debut from Iron Angel. More than meeting expectations, Hellish Crossfire was a consistently urgent release, egged on by Dirk Schroder's Udo Dirksneider/Chris Boltendahl-inspired rough'n'ready vocals, immediately placing them somewhere between Living Death and early Grave Digger. The sophomore Winds Of War released a year later failed to meet the same standard as the debut and the band subsequently disappeared from the spotlight, despite early promise.

Incredibly, 32 years later, Iron Angel have now issued their third full length, Hellbound. Despite not sporting the ubiquitous speed metal icon art this time, the German unit still proudly fly the sub-genre's flag here. The tempo is kept up-beat throughout the ten-track affair, a rush of power drenching the listener in old school glory. Some great lead guitar and rhythmic sections propel the release ever forward, while Schroder's strong vocals are retained despite his advanced age. Consistency again is a strength, every track an enjoyable headbang. One for the old school!

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