Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Grand Lux - Iron Will
Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock Produced By: Roald Rasberg
Record Label: Sand Country Of Origin: Norway
Year Released: 2005 Artist Website:
Tracks: 10 Rating: 80%
Running Time: 55:23
Grand Lux - Iron Will

In recent years Northern Europe has produced its share of top notch Christian metal bands with Sweden being the home to Harmony, Mirador, Narnia and Veni Domine, while Oratorio, Venia, Wingdom and Random Eyes all hail from Finland.  Divinefire embraces members from both Sweden and Finland.  One band that deserves to be mentioned with the regions very best, nevertheless, is Norway's Grand Lux.  Playing a catchy mid-tempo paced brand of metal and hard rock with an occasional doom-like tendency, Grand Lux approaches its art with a great deal of exuberance and attitude on its full length debut Iron Will.  Phil Goode displays good power and range with his emotional flavored mid-octave ranged lead vocal style.  The guitar team of B.D. Hughes and Kirk Evin tear it up with just the right amount of flashy and at times blues flavored lead guitar work.  Bassist Zack Rament and drummer Ran-Dee round out the rhythm section.

The slightly bass heavy and muffled sounding production values to Iron Will would have benefited from a bit of big budget polish.  The drums need to project more punch and power, while the bass does not always stand out in the mix.  The rhythm guitar could come across in a crisper and edgier sounding manner. 

"Heartless Place" is the albums fastest and most upbeat track.  Moving through its first and second verse to a dual between the rhythm and lead guitar, the rhythm guitar steps forward and leads the song to a catchy chorus backed by deep sounding vocal harmonies.  Thirty seconds of rollicking lead guitar work brings out the best in a song talking about the emptiness in today's world -

This world is all for the money
No longer can love rule this earth
Such a heartless place 

 - and the answer to life's confusions and despair:

I know One who can help us
I know One with the power...
He is there to help us
He is there to love us

A driving riff slowly holds sway over "Frozen By Fear" until it tapers off to a near crawl as a quietly played guitar line holds sway over its first and second verse.  Subsequent to the rhythm guitar kicking in hard and heavy, the song picks up in pace and moves on to a strong hard hitting chorus.  A minute of tight sounding rhythm guitar harmony opens an instrumental passage peaking with a fiery guitar solo.

The bass guitar solo launching the bluesy "I'll Be Waiting" interweaves with a bit of rhythm guitar after several seconds.  While the rhythm guitar drops from the mix at the start of the songs first verse, it return as momentum incrementally gains for a chorus driven in a catchy manner by vocal harmonies.  "I'll Be Waiting" talks about God's faithfulness:

I'll be waiting for the One to stand beside me
For now on
I'll be waiting for the One to shine a light
On me tonight

After a piano carries the eight minute "Black Sky" during its first and second verse, a touch of rhythm guitar enters the mix for the third and moves to the songs forefront and buttresses a very fine melodic flavored chorus.  The blues flavored guitar solo opening a two minute instrumental passage gives way to a nice extended run of rhythm guitar harmony.  "Black Sky" focuses on the difference God can make in a persons life:

There has been darkness forever
Now there is light in my life
The sun never sets here
I will surely survive

My life now has meaning
I look forward today
As my past felt so empty

Beginning in to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, "Save Me" moves ahead at an upbeat tempo until it slows for a brief but emotionally charged chorus.  I wish the band had expanded upon an instrumental passage limited to several seconds of restrained sounding lead guitar.  "Save Me" deals with running the race to win:

As I race through the world
Twisting and I turn
And I'm going for the gold
To where we'll never burn

See the checked flag
Waving in the wind
And I know my name
Is signed in by the King

"Out Of Control" conveys a slight seventies feel that brings to mind Swedish hard rockers Modest Attraction (Christian Rivel's old band).  A blend of acoustic guitar and keyboards slowly takes the song through its first three verses before the rhythm guitar bursts in to shore up a resounding chorus with an emotional feel.  Slowly moving rhythm guitar harmony opens an instrumental break culminating in skillful demonstration of blues flavored lead guitar work.

The heavy handed, doom-like riff initiating the creative "Burned Up In Flames" gives way to a punchy bass line upon reaching its first verse.  After the rhythm guitar returns following the songs first verse, the bass guitar again carries the it through the second.  I like how "Burned Up In Flames" picks up in pace for a rhythm guitar driven instrumental break before slowing for its third and final verse.

"Metal Mission" is the only song on the album to not quite make the grade.  Perhaps it is a chorus that lacks a hook strong enough to keep my attention.  Or it might be lyrics that come across on the clichéd side:

I'm on a metal mission
Ain't nobody's gonna be unsaved
I'm on a metal mission
Ain't nobody's gonna be denied

Would somebody please remind these guys that it is not 1985 and that they are not signed to Pure Metal Records!  Irregardless, while there is nothing to be ashamed of in having one filler track, I feel it is important to be fair and state that the songs lyrics convey great truth as well:

And when they come to Him
He forgives everything
They fall down on their knees and pray

The doom-like "By Wings" gradually fades in to a sitar until a quietly played guitar line slowly propels its first and second verse.  Picking up in pace and repeating its first two verses, a doom-like rhythm guitar abruptly cuts in and underscores a chorus delivered with just the right amount of edge and aggression.  While the song does a good job addressing the issue of the fall of lucifer -

See an angel falling down
Falling down from the sky

 - its lyrics are not well written when touching upon the issue of abortion:

Why - kill the baby now
Why - it will learn to how.

The album ends, appropriately, with "The End Is Near".  Once the song slowly fades in, the rhythm guitar suddenly enters the mix and quickly pushes it to a sweeping chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook.  Hughes and Evin dual on lead guitar during an energetic instrumental passage carrying the song over its final two minutes.  "The End Is Near" is a song about faith:

And now when the end is near
Take my hand
Please God
Take my hand
I wanna walk on the road You picked out
For me

My lies don't work
But I don't fear
God gave me a second chance
Please forgive me

Upon first listen Grand Lux's material came across somewhat bland, but after several spins Iron Will gradually grew on me.  In other words, give the CD the time it deserves and you will not be disappointed by this talented young band.  All in all, despite some lyrical ambiguity and a production job in need of a touch of polish, Iron Will proves a very solid debut from a band I am looking forward to hear from in the future.  And by way, from what I have heard these guys put on a killer live show featuring a great deal of pyrotechnics.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: "Heartless Place" (3:53), "Frozen By Fear" (5:11), "I’ll Be Waiting" (4:43), "Black Sky" (8:04), "Save Me" (3:45), "Out Of Control" (5:48), "Burned Up In Flames" (6:32), "Metal Mission" (5:26), "By Wings" (4:56), "The End Is Near" (7:01)

Phil Goode – Lead Vocals
B.D. Hughes – Guitars
Kirk Evin – Guitars
Zack Rament – Bass
Ran-Dee – Drums

Guest Musicians
Harald Borgen, Rolly Rozwell & Hugo Vimme – Keyboards
Nik De Griek – Acoustic Guitar
Bekar Pati - Sitar

Also Reviewed: Grand Lux - Carved In Stone


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