Eternal Champion
Ravening Iron

‘Tis the year 2020 – and the world, more than ever, needs a hero.

From the depths of despair, uncertainty and great tyranny, rises a champion. An unflinching, uncompromising force of great power. An iron-willed warrior spurred on by mighty battle hymns of honor and glory, marching boldly into a sadistic hellscape without the burden of doubt. To stand in its way is to seal your own doomed fate. Arise, friends! Arise and behold our savior upon this wretched realm!

Hell yes, brothers and sisters. Eternal fucking Champion are back. LET’S. FUCKING. GO.

Honestly, these dudes really ought to officially add the “fucking” into the name, because saying their name otherwise just seems inadequate. If you missed the band’s 2016 full-length debut, The Armor of Ire, holy shit fix that. Fix that now. But if for some reason you CAN’T rectify this injustice right at this moment, the only background you really need to know is that with that aforementioned debut LP, this Austin, TX quintet have rapidly rose to become the champions (no pun intended) of premier Traditional Heavy Metal, with many (myself included) considering the album a modern classic. Featuring members of the also-excellent Trad Metal outfit Sumerlands, as well as Power Trip guitarist Blake “Rossover” Ibanez (RIP Riley), Eternal (FUCKING) Champion boast an unyieldingly righteous, anthemic brand of upbeat, fists-forever-pumping Heavy Metal that makes no bones about what it wants to be – Imagine if Dream Evil’s “The Book of Heavy Metal (March of the Metallians)” manifested an actual band of its own, and I think you can piece together what Eternal Champion are bringing to the table. Blatant, over-the-top Heavy Metal for the sake of Heavy Metal with an unpolished, underground aesthetic synonymous with today’s New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal movement. GIMME GIMME GIMME.

The band has made a couple little tweaks, but the formula that made The Armor of Ire so successful still remains mostly intact – the most notable difference being Ravening Iron’s far more deep, robust production quality – providing for a much more immersive and pleasant listening experience, and giving the band the kind of sheer magnitude it truly deserves. But where Armor showed a more pronounced NWOBHM vibe, Ravening Iron goes more full-bore into all-out anthemic paces – opening track “A Face in the Glare” serving as a perfect example. After a bit of a more up-tempo, peppy start, the band pauses, only to launch into a sweet mid-paced banger that hits with the impact of a warhammer-wielding giant. Some neat picking during the song’s epic refrain really grabs your attention as well, showcasing some of the band’s serious musical chops, and the infectious chorus will have you begging for a crowd to sing along with in no time at all. Similarly paced, epic crowd pleasers in tracks like metal anthem of the year candidate “Skullseeker,” and album highlight “Coward’s Keep” really showcase the band sitting right smack-dab in the middle of their wheelhouse and doing everything they can to fill the voids of your life with triumphant, headbanging glory – the latter boasting a friggin nasty little breakdown that will put all fragile objects in your near vicinity in grave danger.

But lest you worry about this album becoming a one-trick pony, the band is more than happy to kick things into gear and rev up the tempo. Title track “Ravening Iron,” breaks out the band’s subtle and occasional use of synths to help accentuate the song’s earworm of a melody and leads the charge into battle with rollicking riffs and a strong vocal performance from singer Jason Tarpey. Some excellent gang vocals “woah”-ing along with the track’s final melody add further to it’s catchiness and are sure to put any crowd in a frenzied state. Similarly, “War at the Edge of the End” and “Worms of the Earth” keep up the peppy, Maiden-like pace, the latter being one of the band’s strongest recordings to date. The track is an absolute rager and brings one of the band’s speedier moments to the table for a circle-pit-friendly stretch of all-out metal attack that gets your blood boiling in earnest. SO freaking good.

At first, the final two tracks, prologue “The Godblade” – with some serious Mad Max or The Running Man lo-fi synth vibes, and the slower, classic doom of “Banners of Arhai,” seem a bit of an anticlimax to the truly awesome precedings, but builds to an epic finale the bring the album to a fitting end. In truth, on my first listen I was left a bit underwhelmed by how the album came to a close, but after a few listens the doomy, gloomy vibe starts to settle in and brings to mind visions of a scattered, bloody post-showdown battlefield with our hero standing bloodied and bruised, but tall and triumphant in victory. Fuck you, villains!

So rest assured, weary brethren. In a world as lost and seemingly hopeless as this, a true ray of hope pierces through the veil of darkness, and brings light to a realm of evil and cruelty. A hero steps forth! And with it comes the promise of strength, triumph, and once again – an undeniable truth:

The true champs are back, motherfuckers. All hail Eternal Champion!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
November 25th, 2020

Comments

  1. Commented by: J. Mays

    This album took a toll on my year end list. It is on there, but I think it would be much higher if it had been released earlier. What a banger. Easily the best “traditional” metal album for me this year.


  2. Commented by: Nick K

    Sick review Steve. I have been a bit intrigued by this band as i had heard buzz from you and saw them on the best of Decibel list. This is METAL in caps lock..

    NK


  3. Commented by: F.Rini

    Great review and the album is a lot of fun


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