Fireworks Magazine Online 61 - Interview with Iron Mask


Interview by Wolf Gant

Fireworks has a very diverse readership which encompasses different styles (AOR, Classic Rock, Melodic Metal, etc.), so when a band emerges from the underground, as Iron Mask did with last album ‘Black As Death’ (2011), taking stylistic chunks from all of those and more, the Fireworks team took good notice. And with the band just having released new album ‘Fifth Son Of Winterdoom’, it’s time to go toe-to-toe with guitar honcho Dushan Petrossi for the lowdown on their style. A sub-genre of ‘neo-classical metal’ has been bandied about in regards to it, but does that really describe them?

“Yes, in a way,” says the guitarist. “We like to have as many diverse songs on each album as possible, so it’s melodic, progressive and neo classical, but also more aggressive in some songs with thrash riffs or blast beats. We really like to mix all that and create our own sound. To be honest that’s much more fun than getting the same mood and style for each song all the time. We like heavy beats, powerful guitars, melodic lines and chorus you can sing along to …. It’s the way I’ve always written; refrains are the most important part for me.”

How do you feel the band has grown since American Mark Boals’ entry into it?

“Mark really does the job. He sings my lines perfectly and that’s very important because everything is based on vocals when I write. It leads the whole process. The most important thing is getting a song in your head right after listening to it and wanting to replay it! Mark has the experience, he knows what I ask of him and he always delivers the way I wanted him to sound. We’ve done 2 video clips and fans of his became fans of ours…. Iron Mask always had a great hard-core fan base and they’ve been very happy with Mark so far.”

For the new album, the bio makes mention of the fact that you took these songs to a live audience first to determine the best songs for the studio? Define what that actually means in reality?

“When we decide to play live songs, they are already a finished work. We don't change anything in the studio, we just like to keep what fans prefer the most. And keeping in mind what songs had the best impact and great reactions when we played was important; a great song will always be fun to play, even after playing it 300 times.”

A few reviews I’ve read make references to Yngwie Malmsteen, who both Mark and ex keyboard player Mats Olausson had connections with in terms of defining you? It’s a nice comparison, but is it fair?

“I think reviewers are sometimes very quick to put a stamp on a CD without really taking the time to listen to it carefully. Except for one song, which is pure neo classical on the album, all the rest can’t really be tagged as 'Yngwie's hard rock’! We are power metal, we are melodic, progressive, and aggressive, but also very catchy and AOR in some songs. It’s not just a way for me to show my guitar skills. I’m not interested in demonstration. When I need a slow solo it will be slow and melodic… I don't always need to be fast. But when a song needs a fast solo then I’m very pleased with that chance too, because our music is so diverse that I enjoy every feeling it brings. It’s never repetitive or boring.”

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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Many people might see the band as a vehicle just for you Dushan, but who do you feel brought important things to the table on this album? I sense Ramy was a key ingredient in defining the pace of some of the tracks; “Seven Samurai” over “Rock Religion” or the title track for example ...

“I write all the music and all lyrics. I do the orchestral arrangements and program the drums, so Ramy knows what to learn and hence record when we enter the studio…. Ramy is great at this. He really gives so much life to my ideas. Vocally too, I record all the vocal lines in my home studio then I send those to Mark so he can start his recordings in his studio in Los Angeles. Mark then records his vocals and we add all the choirs in the choruses, cause I really like to have huge refrains. It makes the music bombastic and majestic.”

And that bodes the obvious question; how do you all balance your work in the context of IM? There’s some wonderful keyboard work here courtesy of Andreas too?

“Well, I’m pretty much the instigator. Andreas actually came back to the band funnily enough, as he was already playing on ‘Shadow Of The Red Baron' and only stopped for a while to go back to college. We are really happy we have him back. He's a great keyboard player and was a student of Richard Andersson, who played all the keyboard solos on my 'Hordes Of The Brave' album previous to that.”

We should make special mention of “The Picture Of Dorian Grey” from the new album ... It’s a monster track for me ...?

“Thanks!!! It’s inspired directly by the Oscar Wilde book not surprisingly and it’s just a great live anthem with strong Prog. parts and an epic guitar melody. There’s a really catchy vocal line and we’re gonna play that one for sure, on our next tour.”

Clearly Iron Mask is growing in all departments. The AFM deal, which began with last album “Black As Death”, has clearly given the band a real shot in the arm. How are you hoping to exploit the record further now it’s released?

“Well, we’re trying to get a professional booking agency now, because it’s really impossible to book stuff ourselves anymore. Lots of fans around the world are eagerly waiting for us to come over and to achieve that we need this. We are doing the best to play everywhere and are really looking forward to it, because we live for our art and our fans. There's nothing else in the world I’d love to do more! Thank you so much to everyone, and see you on the road!!!”

“Fifth Son Of Winterdoom” is out now on AFM Records.


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