Originally released in 2008 on Lee Dorrian’s Rise Above Records, “Iron Will” is the fourth album from Sweden’s Grand Magus and has no doubt been kindly re-issued to coincide with the release of their latest album on Nuclear Blast named “The Hunt”, which is shaping up to be amongst one of the standout releases of the year. However, rewind four years and Grand Magus were a harder-edged band than what “The Hunt” may have you believe.
Not that this is doom on a Cathedral scale. “Iron Will” leans more towards “Peace of Mind”-era Iron Maiden than it does anything else, each song being its own mini-epic but having enough hooks to stick in your brain so you can remember the songs. Beginning with two straight-up trad metal rockers in the form of ‘Like the Oar Strikes the Water’ and ‘Fear is the Key’ (not the Iron Maiden song), the album steps up a notch with the fire-and-brimstone of the rumbling title track. The album’s first foray into doomier territory, this heavier direction sets the tone for the rest of the album, with only ‘The Shadow Knows’ offering up a bit of up-tempo groove to break up the pace.
Singer JB’s vocals are strong throughout, his voice sounding more like a slightly gruffer Ian Gillan than the higher-registered warble that he has used on the last couple of albums. The guitar tone is nice and thick, driving each song along against a rhythm section that is as tight as anything from the Harris/McBrain rhythm section, and overall this may not be as ultimately rewarding as “The Hunt” but for a solid slab of heavy metal with the feel of the classics “Iron Will” caters for all of your needs.