From wanna bees to warriors
The band was started by Martin Steene back in his school days, some 15 years ago.
Since then the band has had continuesly different lineups, and they have played three different genres of metal. They started out as a heavy metal/hard rock-cover band but after a while they started playing doom metal. Then it got more aggressive and they started playing a mix of melodic death- and black metal, but Martin's heart was keen on getting back to his roots and playing good old fashioned German power/speed metal. Therefore Martin and Krisitan H.M. teamed up with two good friends, Steve Mason and Thomas Mogensen, and started playing covers of Manowar, Rage and Hammerfall. Not felling satisfied with just playing covers, Martin started writing material for the project band. Sadly enough the project never really got off the ground. Although Martin had made up his mind about playing power metal, and suggested this genre to his main band, Decades of Darkness. Along with their musical changes, they have also changed the name of the band several times. Starting out as "Misery", they soon changed it to "Decades of Darkness", and finally ended up as "Iron Fire". In the summer of 1998 they decided upon making a demo CD, which was the beginning of a new era for Iron Fire. The demo was received immensely well in Scandinavia and Europe, and they were offered contracts from "LMB", "Lound'n'Pround" and "Noise records", eventually signing with Noise records. Martin Steene sings and used to share the leads with Kristian H. Martinsen on guitar, but had to give it up due to trouble with his wrists. Now Kristian plays the leads alone. Kristian "Iver" Iversen, who originally founded the band with Martin, had left it for a couple of years, but rejoined the band and plays the rhythm-guitar. Gunnar Olsen plays drums, and Jakob Lykkebo plays bass.
They have been influenced by many bands, in particular Helloween and Manowar to which you can draw many parallels. Since they began playing power/speed metal at the end of 1997, they have worked hard to develop themselves musically, in particular Martin has spent a lot of time and energy on composing catchy and melodic songs which are, in his opinion, the very spirit of true metal. However, it hasn't always been easy to keep the spirit alive, due to the very small club scene that thrives in Denmark, it has been a struggle getting live jobs. Now, however, things seem to be looking up as they have finished recording their first album, with Tommy Hansen as producer( also produced Helloween, Pretty Maids). Sadly enough, after recording the record, "Thunderstorm", things didn't go as planned with their rhythm guitarist, Kristian "Iver" Iversen. So the band and "Iver" parted as friends.
The First Crusade
Thunderstorm was received pretty good by the media, especially in Germany the magazines predicted a bright future for Iron Fire, 8.5 out 10 points in Rock Hard, 9 out 12 points in Heavy Oder Was. Noise Records were thrilled about the success of the Iron Fire debut. A couple of live shows were arranged in Germany by Noise. Iron Fire had to perform for the first time out side of Denmark, in Münster Odeon and the day after in Hamburg at the club Logo, and the "mini tour" was supposed to end with a release party at the Head Bangers Ball Rome in Hamburg. Martin Slott former guitarist of Danish glam band Push, replaced Kristian Iversen on guitar, Iron Fire was now ready to conquer Germany. 15 hours of driving from Copenhagen to Münster, was hard for the band, but when the clock struck show-time the five warriors pulled off one of the best live shows in the bands carrier up and till that point, in front of only 20 or less people. The band was satisfied with their own performance, but of course a little disappointed about the lack of people at the gig. Totally adrenalized the band headed for the bars of Münster. The day after at the show in Hamburg, the band did a good job, this time with a bigger crowd, about 60 head bangers were gathered at the club, and Karl Walterbach chief of Noise Records, also witnessed the show. Later the same night Iron Fire, was supposed to have a release party at the Head Bangers Ball Room, but some body at the Ball Room or Noise Records screwed things up. The release party was a failure and to complete the night one of the bands cars, had been moved by the German police, because it was parked in a non-parking zone, but finally the car was found, and Iron Fire and crew could return to Copenhagen with an experience they'd never forget.
The Edge of Rock'n'Roll
The band started to rehearse new material for the new album, some of the new songs had a more straight rock and roll feeling, than previous material. Gunnar Olsen couldn't really adjust his drumming style to the new songs, and the rest of the band knew that it was time to replace Gunnar with a more experienced and al round kind of drummer, to achieve the maximum power on their second album. It happened to be a lot more difficult to find the right drummer for Iron Fire than anybody had thought. After four different drummers failed the job, and six weeks of booked studio time in Jailhouse Studio where coming closer, the band found their saviour in former Coritus Interuptus / Push drummer Morten Plenge, who agreed to record the second Iron Fire album. Morten only had three rehearsal days before the band headed for the Motala Metal Festival in Sweden. With Edguy, Hypocrisy among other bands and about 600 visitors. This was the biggest and most important live show in the bands history. A week later the band entered Jailhouse Studio, to start the recording of On the Edge, four weeks of recording and two weeks for the mix. The drums were recorded on six days, and because of the short time Morten Plenge had to prepare for the new material the band had to rehearse in the Studio at night. Everything went as scheduled and on the 15th of January the second Iron Fire album, On the Edge, was finished. This time it was possible for the band to get Andreas Marshall to paint the cover, who also is known for his fantastic work with Blind Guardian and Running Wild covers. The guys returned from the studio with a really good feeling about this record. Everybody in the band was happy and satisfied. But their enthusiasm would soon turn to stone. Morten Plenge decided to quit his drumming carrier due to a medical condition in his wrist. It was a shock to the rest of the guys in Iron Fire, who once again stood without a drummer, just weeks before the release of On the Edge. The band was forced to play un-plugged at the release party. Which actually came out pretty good. It was a real challenge for the guys and fun to peoples reaction because nobody thought that Iron Fire would pull off a hour of power metal tunes on acoustic guitars.
Every one was waiting for the release of On the Edge, and on the 26th of March, it happened. The second album from Iron Fire didn't actually welcome from the media. 6 out 10 points in Rock Hard, and, 5 out of 12 in Heavy Oder Was. The band was devastated and not even Noise Records, supported the album that now was bound to fail. Martin Steene couldn't believe that some critics dared to write that Iron Fire was not true metal anymore. Confused and furious the band only had one thing in mind, to find a new drummer and make the most "metal" Iron Fire record ever. To show the world that Iron Fire was not willing to go down that easy. It took about six months and six different drummers before an old friend of the band, Steve Mason, finally came to the rescue. The songs for the third album were written now they only had to rehearse the songs with Steve Mason and make a demo for Noise Records. But six months without a permanent drummer is a long time for a band. Kristian Martinsend (guitar), and Jakob Lykkebo (bass), had lost hope in Iron Fire and decided to leave the sinking ship. But Martin Steene (vocals) now the only original member, Martin Slott (guitar), and new guy Steve Mason (drums), refused to surrender. Martin Steene (vocals / bass), decided to take on the bass for the time being, while auditions for Kristian Martinsens replacement took place. The new guitarist was found in Kirk Backarach, who was ready to become a part of the new Iron Fire.
The demo was finished, and sent off to Noise Records. The feedback from Noise was not at all positive. They didn't like the new material, and chose to free Iron Fire from the contract. Noise had obviously also lost their faith in the band. To complete the failure Martin Slott (guitar) left the band only a few weeks after the tragic news from Noise. On only one year, Iron Fire had gone from a promising successful upcoming band to a sad excuse of a heavy metal band without a record deal, and with out the power to maintain a full lineup.
Iron Fire had diffidently lost the battle, but the war wasn't over. Better days were in sight, and new hope and faith was gained when a friend of Kirk Backarach (guitar) and former member of Danish death metallers Corpus Mortale, Søren Jensen joined the band as guitarist. Martin Steene re-recorded the vocals on the demo and added some new songs, got it re-mixed at Søren Jensen's home studio and ready to show new record labels, that the fire is still burning strong, and show the world that Iron Fire is here to stay. Only weeks later on Friday 26th of July 2002, the band also acquired a new bass guitarist, in Spanish bad ass metal head José Cruz, who finally completed the circle of warriors. And after almost a year of struggle for survival Iron Fire had a full lineup. With a new powerful crew Martin Steene and company was once again ready to attack and conquer the world.
In the twilight zone
The demo was sent around to the ten most respected and well-known record companies. Including a couple of companies who had their eyes on the band before signing with Noise Records. But IRONFIRE soon had to realize that this time it was not going to be that easy. A new record deal was going to cost a lot more blood, sweat, and tears, than the band ever imagined. The European power metal scene had changed since the days when IRONFIRE got the first break, a lot of new young and talented power metal (true metal) bands had over flooded the market, leaving IRONFIRE as just another metal act in the crowd, not as young and interesting as in the years before. The band got turned down by all of ten record companies, once again IRONFIRE had been beaten down and had to fight hard to rise from the ruins of fame. Now the band had to go on without a contract back into the underground. But the spirit of IRONFIRE was still intact and all focus was aimed at the upcoming live show at Forbrændingen, which was the first real IRONFIRE concert in almost two years.
IRONFIRE hit the stage with such energy and power that slowly infected the crowd, about 70 people were gathered that night on the 6th of September 2002, to witness a new IRONFIRE explode live. The band was determined to prove that if anybody thought that IRONFIRE was dead and buried they would be absolutely wrong. After 3 months of intense practice and writing songs it was time for another shot at the title, a new deal with a record company was necessary for the band if they ever wanted another chance in the metal elite. The recordings of the new demo began in December 2002. Drums, bass and guitars were recorded at Søren Jensen's (guitar) studio, Niflheim. Vocals, keyboards and guitar leads where recorded at Martin Steene's studio HellFire. The recording process was slow due to the amount of selected songs, which was raised from the first planned 5 tunes to 10. Between the recordings another show at Forbrændingen were arranged. And IRONFIRE pulled off another successful gig in Albertslund. But unfortunately it was the last show with Søren Jensen (guitar). He decided to leave the band, about a week later. He didn't feel that things were working out the way he had expected. The biggest problem concerning Søren's departure was that all the recorded tracks for the next demo were ready to be mixed at his studio. But with Søren Jensen out of the band the rest of IRONFIRE were not able to use as much time and energy on the final mix as they had planned. 3 weeks later Søren Jensen had mixed all ten songs by himself. The sound was not quite as good as expected, but there was nothing to do about it.
The band could only hope that the lack of power in the production wouldn't have any negative effect on the record companies opinion about the material. Six tracks were chosen to represent the power of IRONFIRE's new music. About 30 record labels could soon expect to receive a new deadly strike from the north. Jeff Lukka a local metal maniac, friend of Jose Cruz (bass), and a big admirer of the band were ready to replace Søren Jensen as the new 2nd axe-man of IRONFIRE. On the 10th of May Jeff Lukka had his live debut with IRONFIRE, in Copenhagen' only metal club TEX, with 19 songs on the set list, covering every period of the bands carrier. IRONFIRE maybe found themselves without a record contract but with a much stronger band. With the love for metal and an iron will IRONFIRE seems almost immortal carrying on the crusade and dream of metal victory.
The concert at Forbraendingen was a big success, probably the best IF show ever. Starring Hank Shermann playing the UFO classic "This kid´s" , witch IF recorded for the tribute album "Spaced out". Former guitarist Martin Slott also joined in on the song "Wanted man", and the two final songs were performed by none less than the original IF lineup. -A night to remember for all who were or are involved with the band. Only two days later M. Steene and Kirk Backarach decided to leave the band due to arguments about a number of professional and personal issues. Steene and Backarach kept the band name, while the other members formed a new band named "Blinded by Fear".
Once again IF is facing difficult times, maybe the worst in the bands history so far... A show planned at TEX in Copenhagen a month later, were creating heavy problems for IF, now down to only two members. Steene refused to let any fans down and called up some friends including Martin Slott. The band pulled of the show with stile due to only 3 rehearsals. Steene and Kirk Backarach spend the next six months looking for members, writing songs and planning the next chapter in IF history. Finaly drummer Martin Sunddal, an old friend of Steene, back from a rock´n roll project, Steene and Slott did, called Magic, are ready to take part in the new IF lineup. Once again IF will rise from the ashes, to beat all odds. This band just won’t die...
To be continued…