Iron Angel

Winds of War

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After entering their own pony into the German speed metal horse race with a frantic first album, Hellish Crossfire, Hamburg's Iron Angel seemed to stay their riding crops, fall back from the front of the pack, and decide to jockey for position at a somewhat more restrained gallop for their second outing, 1986's Winds of War. Already, Iron Angel had shown themselves less interested in joining the Teutonic thrash movement's extremist wing (represented by the uncompromising Destruction and Kreator) than they were its more accessible contingent made up of colleagues like Helloween and Grave Digger, with whom they would in fact help spearhead the burgeoning power metal style. And so, Winds of War was the next logical step in that direction but, unfortunately, its more obviously classicist approach to heavy metal songwriting yielded a spate of competent but all too familiar-sounding tracks, noticeably lacking in the fresh vivacity of then-nascent thrash. Among these, "Vicious," "Fight for Your Life," and the especially dire "Born to Rock" (a corny title that really says it all) can be singled out as primary offenders, while "Son of a Bitch" probably fared best of all, even though both its title and its conventional metal tricks borrowed a bit too blatantly from Accept. Much more interesting were energetic holdovers from Iron Angel's recent past like opener "Metalstorm" and late-album thrashers "Stronger than Steel," "Sea of Flames," and "Creatures of Destruction" -- all of which arrived a little too late to make things right, unfortunately (and were capped by a halfhearted ballad in "Back to the Silence," to boot). In sum, this wasn't a disastrous second outing for Iron Angel by any stretch, but it did show evidence of the creative differences already pushing the band toward extinction just one year later. [Winds of War was remastered in 2004 and reissued with an additional seven live bonus tracks culled from Iron Angel's 1985 tour.]

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