The success of Finnish retro rockers Mausoleum Gate has only heightened the creative spirit of its drummer, Oskari Räsänen. His side-project, Iron Griffin, is the product of Räsänen simply toying around with some song ideas and recording them for fun. Surprised by the quality of the recordings, the drummer set about creating an EP on his own, handling everything but the vocals. After completing four songs in the summer of 2017, he submitted them to Italy’s Gates of Hell Records (a sub-label of Cruz Del Sur Music), who quickly signed Iron Griffin.
Whereas Mausoleum Gate takes its cues from proto-metal and ’70s rock, Iron Griffin tackles vintage metal with full aplomb. Backed by the soaring, falsetto-driven vocals of Toni Pentikäinen, the five songs (including one brief intro) that make up the band’s self-titled EP combine “Melissa”-era Mercyful Fate with the marauding melodic sensibility of NWOBHM. And as expected, the production here is crisp and warm, devoid of any sort of “modern” shades and hues, allowing for Räsänen’s smart, compact arrangements to shine.
Mausoleum Gate may be Räsänen’s top musical priority, but he shoulders a heavy workload in Iron Griffin, going as far as to create the EP’s majestic cover art himself. Comments Räsänen: “I got the inspiration to start painting some art influenced by the music I have created (which later became the cover art for this EP). I am heavily influenced by dark fantasy, swords, and sorcery… I wanted to treasure that epic feeling of my paragons like Warlord, Brocas Helm, Omen, Dark Quarterer and Stormwitch.”
A total classic heavy metal package, Iron Griffin’s self-titled EP is on-the-money for those who appreciate true song-craft, top-notch melodies and the sensation of dropping the needle on the vinyl record of your favorite metal band.