Iron Angel

Hellish Crossfire

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Iron Angel's 1985 debut, Hellish Crossfire, is a living testament to the wild, untamed excitement that fueled the first wave of German thrash metal bands, of which the Hamburg quintet had been one of the earliest contenders. Quite like the first mini-album from crosstown rivals Helloween released that same year, Hellish Crossfire brewed up potent speed metal that was certainly a little rough around the edges, but excusably so given the band's sheer enthusiasm and boundless, youthful energy while delivering it. And, sure enough, from the initial explosion of opener "The Metallian" through to the ultimate thrash-out of "Heavy Metal Soldiers" ten songs later, the boys in Iron Angel hardly ever paused for breath, with frontman Dirk Schroder leading the charge with a shrill but melodic style reminiscent of other extreme Euro-metal contemporaries like Accept's Udo Dirkschneider, Artillery's Flemming Ronsdorf, and, once again, Helloween's Kai Hansen. "Sinner," "Hunter in Chains," and "Legions of Evil" all still manage to sound refreshingly vital, and its only on uncharacteristic, slightly less frenzied offerings like "Black Mass" and "Nightmare" that Iron Angel revealed the lingering trad-metal influences that would ultimately derail their next-year sophomore album, Winds of War. Ironically, that album would probably better Hellish Crossfire in terms of songwriting refinement and execution, but it's no wonder why this first effort's popularity still exceeds it in the eyes of genre specialists, who prize its raw power above and beyond its flaws. [Hellish Crossfire was remastered in 2004 and reissued with an additional six bonus tracks culled from Iron Angel's Power Metal Attack demo tape of 1984.]

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