(No Remorse Records)
9 out 10 Skulls
Written by Kenneth Gallant
The highly anticipated sophomore release from Eternal Champion is finally on the horizon and boy does it ever pack a punch! More importantly they deliver above and beyond the original template that started with 2016’s The Armor of Ire; delivering 8 tracks of battle slogged anthems. If you enjoy the fantasy works of Michael Moorcock or even Robert E. Howard, then you will fancy the unabashed love affair this band provides with a dose of epic heavy metal.
Hailing from Austin, Texas and taking their name from Moorcock’s Eternal Champion; the band brings the power and triumph of steel in a thunderous way. Often taking the listener back to the fictional universe of the Eternal Champion; a hero largely reincarnating over and over in a bid to defend and keep the balance of the forces between law and order. It doesn’t get any better than that and for those who love this literary type of fantasy and sword & sorcery your appetite will be satiated immensely.
Ravening Iron starts off with a bang as the opening number “A Face in the Glare” begins with the sounds of the blacksmith forging the steel; then giving way to the blistering lead; kicking off the heaviness in a big way. The guitar work of John Powers/Arthur Rizk is superb and it’s a satisfying number to start out the proceedings. The title track “Ravening Iron” follows and the high-octane pace thuds along to a harmonic-filled sing-along chorus that brings to mind Iron Maiden. The song details the plight of a village torn apart from a sword battle and the after effects of an attack. I couldn’t help but think about the opening scene in Conan when as a child his village was raided and plundered by a renegade barbarian hoard.
My favorite track breaks out next with the start of Rizk’s war chime on the drums and the thunderous bass of Brad Raub kicking in for “Skullseeker”. Arguably, the strongest number in these set of songs – Skullseeker fires up the metallic engine and lets the heavy sounding guitars do their thing. I also loved the little nuances that singer Jason Tarpey brings in with the Tom Gabriel-like ‘ohs’ to give that added extra touch to the song. There’s also a wonderful solo that starts at around the 3rd minute mark capping off what I believe to be is the perfect song on this album.
” War at the Edge of the End” gallops along, approaching Iron Maiden like rhythms and guitar harmonies that were satisfying to my ears. “Coward’s Keep” starts out with a Thin Lizzy-soaked harmony then crashes into Arthur Rizk’s furious drumming to really drive the rhythm section and start us off on the right foot. The pace and energy (from the guitars) build up nicely into a song that describes the fears of going into battle and there’s definitely a nod to J.R.R. Tolkien here lyrically. The song also fades out into an acoustic guitar outro that closes off quite nicely.
I love how kick-ass sounding “Worms of the Earth” starts out and roars for about 4 minutes. It’s the kind of song you can definitely utilize when working out, or when bike riding. The thunderous sounds in this little ditty will raise the thrash meter up to the highest point and it never lets the down the pace. Then we get a little interlude with the majestic sounding “The Godblade”; utilizing synths in a short instrumental arrangement. It’s atmospheric and it brings to mind those long forgotten 80’s B movies like Beastmaster and The Sword and the Sorcerer. Finally, we end off with the doomy laden “Banners of Arhai”. The pace here slows down quite a bit, so there’s some time to catch your breath and take in this powerful dirge. Jason’s vocals are superb and on point the moment the first note is struck. I liked how the band gave this track the proper due it needed to breath; layering over ethereal sounds to cap off a great sophomore release.
The Ravening Iron is a strong second outing and forges ahead in a different way than what was established on The Armor of Ire. The production is beefy and the guitars will bludgeon the listener over the head with a bountiful selection of tasty riffs. I found the pace on this release much more to my liking, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the debut. Both records each have a charm all their own, but The Ravening Iron is a statement defining release and let me tell you – the band is ready to take the world by storm! There’s not a band song in the bunch and often I thought that it was like listening to Iron Maiden on crack. It’s all so wonderfully recorded and packaged into a set of galloping riffs and leads that left me wanting more as the last note fades out.
Tarpey’s vocals felt like they got an upgrade here and his lyrics continue to dazzle these metalhead’s ears. The other neat fact about the Ravening Iron is the release of Tarpey’s new book The Godblade; coming out as a companion to the album. As soon as I heard about the fantasy novel, I ordered if off Amazon and I am eagerly excited to read about the further continuation of Tarpey’s “Vengeance of the Insane God” short story first published in Swords of Steel by DMR books. The Godblade is a novella, following the exploits of warrior Raenon in his journey to uncover the tomb of the god Farick. Many of the songs written on the Ravening Iron are direct inspiration from the fantasy world of Arginor and will be detailed in the book.
If you are into bands like Iron Maiden, Visgoth, Manilla Road and Steel Aggressor then give this record a try. It won’t disappoint; and if you enjoy Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery this band will do the trick and quench your thirst for forged steel.
To purchase the album – buy here Music | Eternal Champion (bandcamp.com)
To purchase The Godblade – buy here The Godblade — DMR Books
|The Godblade — DMR BooksThe warrior-smith Rænon, after witnessing the return of Brakur the Insane God, has returned to his homeland in Aelbrond. Now he must seek the tomb of the dead god Farick for the remains he needs to pyre-forge The Godblade, the only sword that can kill Brakur and stand against the nefarious cult of Arhai.dmrbooks.com|