Janne “JB” Christoffersson – lead vocals, guitar
Mats “Fox” Skinner – bass, backing vocals
Ludwig “Ludde” Witt – drums
- Like the Oar Strikes the Water
- Fear is the Key
- Iron Will
- Silver Into Steel
- The Shadow Knows
- Self Deceiver
- Beyond Good and Evil
- I am the North
Grand Magus’ 2008 effort, Iron Will, is a solid record, but it lacks a bit of the power of future releases from the band. The tracks here are faster, a little less catchy and generally speaking, not quite up to the standard of the rest of Grand Magus’ discography.
The sound is of Iron Will is actually a little more complicated than what I know of Grand Magus, with slightly more advanced licks, riffs and melodies. The faster tempo, found on tracks such as Like the Oar Strikes the Water and Fear is the Key doesn’t give time or a huge amount of space for the three brilliant members of the band to breathe. These aren’t bad songs, nor is there a dud on the album, but I feel like since the release of this record almost ten years ago, Grand Magus have developed their sound a little by becoming slightly simpler.
There are a couple of classics on Iron Will, with the title track, Iron Will, and The Shadow Knows sure to be repeated long into the future at live concerts and on your MP3 players. Self Deceiver, too is a quality track, with its slower, muddier riffs and sound. Although this song does bring me onto a down-point for the record. Janne “JB” Christoffersson’s vocals. His performance is great, as per usual, full of emotion and power, but there is an effect over the top of most of it. All the effect serves to do is take power away from what sounds like a typically strong performance from Sweden’s answer to Bruce Dickinson. I don’t understand why they’d think of adding any kind of effect to his voice, it’s good enough as is.
More complicated aspects such as this get in the way of what Grand Magus do best – simple, powerful metal that tell tales of battle and exploration. The slightly elevated pace found in a few of the tracks on Iron Will, too, just serves to get in the way of great tracks. There is a brilliant album somewhere behind the little complications in Iron Will, but as it is, I’d recommend The Hunt or Sword Songs over this.
Iron Will is a little trickier to get into than newer records from Grand Magus. Little things such as vocal effects, somewhat more complicated song writing and a slightly increased tempo drag the record down.