Formed in 2004 and based in Tehran, Angband plays a style of Power Metal in the vein of American groups like Iced Earth and Jag Panzer rounded out with elements of Prog and Persian traditional music. Their fourth full-length album, aptly titled IV (Pure Steel Records), is their first to come out since 2012’s Saved From The Truth as well as the first to feature Tim Aymar of Control Denied/Pharaoh fame on lead vocals. The prospects are exciting, but the actual execution ends up being a rather mixed bag.

For what it’s worth, Aymar carries this album fantastically. His raspy yet melodic voice is as potent as ever and the clean production job reinforces his commanding presence quite nicely. The varied songwriting also gives him a lot to work with whether it be the rousing call to arms on ‘Fighters’ or the mystery of ‘Cyrus The Great.’ He might go a little too over the top on the more subdued ‘Nights Of Tehran’ and ‘Children Of War,’ but the compositions’ static dynamics could be just as much to blame for that.

Unfortunately, the other musicians are where the album falters. The drums are the weakest link, sitting rather limply in the mix with stilted beats that have more to do with Hard Rock than anything in the Metal realm. The guitars fare better with a lot of gorgeous flourishes and elegant leads on display, but the riffs and gallops aren’t the powerful driving force set forth by their inspirations. There’s also frequent usage of flute throughout the album, which fleshes out the Middle Eastern aura yet ends up sounding muddled more often than not.

Overall, Angband’s fourth album isn’t a bad effort so much as one that I wish I liked more. It’s an improvement from their earlier efforts with better production values and more involved textures that beautifully reflect their culture. Aymar’s vocals are primed to be a massive shot in the arm but the other musicians never seem to take him up on it. The songwriting may be decent enough for some to get over its flaws, but some extra gumption would’ve gone a long way. I hope that Angband is able to put all the things they have going for them to even greater use next time around.

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6 / 10