» Martin Steene - Iron Fire
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Interview conducted June 30 2007
Interview published July 08 2007

As the millenium warriors - Iron Fire - unleash the Blade Of Triumph this month, be prepared to be defleshed by their vengeance from hellish crossfire! Thus, stigmatized by the mettle, I felt it most befitting to again get in touch with the warrior of steel, himself: Mr. Martin Steene and witness his iron force of will, behind the mirror. This prince of agony has endured much censuring, paying a heavy price in blood; but, his dragonheart has persistantly prevalied, and his thunderspirit has truly triumphed. The new album is a pure metal victory, a sonic thunderstorm which will carry the listener over the edge. If you thought last year's Revenge was a savage prophecy resounding Odin's call; just wait to you hear the new release which harks back to the glory days of Blind Guardian and Hammerfall; daring to break the spell of power metal monotony. The dawn of victory is at hand, so join me on the gladiator's path, right into the abyss....

MettleAngel: Greetings again Martin, if you recall, we spoke last year, when the new CD - Revenge - was released. I so enjoyed that album. When I received my promo for Blade Of Triumph, I was astonished at how truly awesome it is. This is the way, I feel true power metal should sound. If fans loved Revenge and Thunderstorm, just wait until they hear this! I am so glad that you stayed true to your mettle and finally released another rippin' CD, and so soon! Did you work extra hard to achieve what, in my opinion, is one of the best power metal releases of the year? Had you always planned to keep Iron Fire going; especially after you joined and became the vocalist for Force of Evil? Are you aware of your band's popularity and noteriety, here in the States?

  • Martin: Hello there and thanks my friend, it's so good to hear from you again. Thank you so much for enjoying the new CD. I did not realize Americans even cared about us.

MettleAngel: So is Iron Fire your priority now, or do you balance your time between both bands?

  • Martin: Force Of Evil is really on hold for the time being, so we started writing songs for the new album even before Revenge was out last year, because we really wanted to show the fans that Iron Fire has returned, and this time we mean business! We spent a year in the rehearsal room to write the best possible songs for the follow up to Revenge. Here we are one year later, and after a 1000 hours of rehearsals, and probably as many beers, we have properly delivered.

MettleAngel: So alcoholic induced metal, how true to your steel! I'm sure this assisted in the mode of inspiration for lyrics as well. As I listen to the CD, I notice certain references to several movies I've seen lately. When I hear songs like "Bloodbath Of Knights", I'm reminded of Anton Fuqua's: King Arthur with Clive Owen; and when I hear "Gladiator's Path", it seems to be influenced by the movie with Russel Crowe. Have major epics on the big screen influenced you lyrical approach?

  • Martin: Oh yeah I'm a sucker for those epic movies, and what better way to get inspired for lyrics! I mean I don't quite go swinging the sword in battlefields in my normal life, so I got to use my imagination; and movies, as well as books make it a bit easier to get the words down for a Iron Fire song.

MettleAngel: So you translate the lyrical themes vicariously. You won't brandish a sword in your everyday life, but watching your heroes on the screen, or reading about them in an epic fantasy empowers you to place yourself into the lyrics you write as a main character.

  • Martin: Exactly!

MettleAngel: Then essentially, Iron Fire, tends to transcend the "Dungeons & Dragon" motif, what inspires you lyrically, other than movies? I know that lyrical admiration for Force Of Evil is derived by your affinity for horror flicks. How does this differ when you write the words for Iron Fire?

  • Martin: With Force Of Evil, I tend to use horror elements, which serves as a real big passion for me. This contributes quite well for the whole Mercyful Fate legacy. Whereas, in Iron Fire, the music and lyrics suggest concepts of bravery, friendship, honour,and stuff like that. I have always used warriors to express those tales. I guess I have been brainwashed after playing so many Manowar records in my childhood, if you know what I mean? It's these type of lyrics which I have written since I started this band ten years ago, and I'm gonna stick to it as long I still have the imagination for it. Real Metal needs real Metal lyrics, do you not agree?

MettleAngel: Absolutely, I love metal lyrics! Manowar set the precedent, and power metal artists have carried the torch ever since. This brings me to the song: Legend Of The Magic Sword, to me, this seems like a reference to Excalibur; what made you choose to do this as a Medieval Canticle? This is not really a ballad, per se', correct?

  • Martin: No this is truly not a ballad. I have always had a hard time with getting proper ballads to fit in on Iron Fire records; usually they get to be a bit too heart aching... bla bla bla you know? I'm tired of that whining shit, so this time I just took a classic story and mixed it up with a little folk touch, and out came Legend Of The Magic Sword, which I think is truly a most benefitting and fantastic addition to this album. Isn't it funny how some things just takes forever to make right sometimes?

MettleAngel: Yes, I know, the music scene is always evolving, and when On The Edge came out, fans were just not ready for a new approach in song writing. Legend Of The Magic Sword will appeal to fans of Falconer, as well as Grave Digger. I really must say that the music on "Blade Of Triumph" is a true power metal triumph! The playing and performance, even transcends recent efforts by Hammerfall, Nocturnal Rites, Nostadameus, Twilight Guardians, and their ilk; you were so criticized for "On The Edge", how does it feel knowing you truly have recaptured the Power Metal majesty?

  • Martin: It has been a tough ride, and a long learning experience. I mean if you start making albums when you are a young and naive, like I did, you will have to learn from your mistakes along the way. It's the same as everything else here in life, you just have to pick up the pieces and carry on. So, yes it feels great to be on the right track once again; but if we had not done On The Edge, and gone through all this bullshit, this album might not have sounded this good. We knew what fans wanted, and we knew not to repeat our old mistakes. I like learning by doing, it's just like sex my friend; you get better with practice, and you know what works and what does not, so that you can truly please your partner, or metal brother. We know now what the fans are expecting, and how a band like Iron Fire should sound, and that is really what we are doing now... nothing more nothing less.

MettleAngel: You make a really good point there. Life teaches us all valuable lessons. So in some respect, On The Edge may be viewed as a blessing in disguise. Do you feel, like I and my brethren do, that power metal has become too wimpy, and stagnated? Only certain bands like Gamma Ray, Gaia Epicus, Freedom Call, etc. keep making raging albums, with memorable anthems.

  • Martin: Well if a 1000 bands are all doing the same shit, then people are eventually going to get tired of it at some point, and there is really nothing I myself, or anybody else can do about it. I think like I said ten years ago, that the best and strongest bands will survive. I just hope that we are now among those, we have sure have made our struggle for it. You know when you write and play the music you really love, you have to do what your heart is telling you, and just say, "Fuck the rest!". Its the only way to do it, fuck all the reviews, I can't control the way other people think. I'm sick of all that shit, because in the end you can not be loved by the whole world. I know I make it sound easy, with my new found philosophy; but it has taken me 27 years to learn that valuable lesson!

MettleAngel: What a lesson to learn too! I agree, the only person you can control in this world is yourself, so seek your joy, and let all else just be. For you personally, what is the meaning of the "Blade Of Triumph"? Do I detect some double-entendre? Last year, you reaped your revenge, now you truly have earned your triumph, even if you have been held under the blade!

  • Martin: I like the way you put that, clever. Ha, ha, I guess you can say that is true; one thing is for sure, this album is not as angry as Revenge was, and its been a more fun to write, rehearse and record it. I don't know if the whole meaning extends much deeper than it's just a metal album. Although, of course, I do draw some parallels from the story of the band sometimes; but, in the end, after all is said and done, it's just good old metal meant and made for people to enjoy. So drink up, celebrate, and have a great time, all the time.

MettleAngel: The old: "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!", mentality; you really can not be more mettle than that! Martin, do you feel like you have solidified the perfect line-up of true metal musicians now playing in Iron Fire?

  • Martin: The perfect line-up, what is that! Bands are like fucking marriages, it goes up and down all the time! I guess that's what makes it interesting and all constantly in flux; but, it's for sure not a walk in the park to be married to four other very different partners. The line up is great now, and we work well together, but I mean, let's be realistic; people are getting older and are starting to have familys, and make a life of their own, so it takes a lot more planning to run this band, than what I've been used to in the past. Overall, I say, "What the hell, there is always more to life than Rock N' Roll, at least a little I would think!". :)

MettleAngel: More to life than Metal, hardly, Metal is Life! No seriously, metal is what keeps us all going, it is what keeps us alive. Is the Danish metal scene thriving again for bands of your caliber? It seems like the most popular acts, other than Mercyful Fate, tend to be death metal artists; is there a viable market for power metal, like there is in Sweden & Germany?

  • Martin: Oh yeah, we have a lot of metal coming out of Denmark these days compared to say, ten years ago, and yes they are more in the aggressive department. We are the few who keep the melodies alive here. Still, I think when younger people think of the metal that is popular currently, its more like Machine Head or Slipnot, and not the mellow 80's stuff that we love; but, that's what we like and we are lucky that at least some of the metal crowd here are into it, too.

MettleAngel: I know what you mean, I so prefer bands with a... dare I say... commercial approach. I want the songs to stick with me after several listens; there has to be a contagion to the melody. This is why I was surprised when Leif of Candlemass preferred Machine Head and Mastodon to Therion. Iron Fire truly has that edge, with no compromise; in some respects you have even surpassed Manowar, whose latest CD was such a disappointment. Are you fully concentrated on Iron Fire, or are you also writing music for a future release by Force Of Evil?

  • Martin: Like I mentioned earlier, Force Of Evil is on stand-by right now, but I hope we can do an album again sometime when we all find some time on our hands. Did you also know that I have ben working on my other project called Nightlight, and we are close to signing a deal right now. Hopefully, we will have an album out later this year. I encourage you to check it out on http://www.myspace.com/nighlightofficial . This is not power metal at all; it's more gothic and dark in its origin; this is something that I think fans of bands like HIM, Paradise Lost, Billy Idol, Sisters Of Mercy, and stuff like will love.

MettleAngel: I'm not a fan of HIM, but I do like older Sentenced, and newer Tiamat, so I will definitely check out the link, and add you to our friends list. I am really excited about seeing Paradise Lost this fall with Nightwish too. I'll be curious to hear how you adapt your power metal range to a more gothic brooding tamber. Speaking of tours, you still have not visited America. Do you think that with the success of this new release, there is any chance of coming to America? Now that Persuader, Sacred Steel, & Firewind, are all coming here for their inaugural visits, we sure would love to see Iron Fire as well, then I could actually speak with you in person.

  • Martin: Yeah, it would be great, but touring in the states is expensive as hell, so we'll have to see. It would be cool to share some beers with you and your friends. I think that it should be possible some day to give you Americans some Danish steel!

MettleAngel: Well then I'll magnetize that! Finally, in closing, do you have any comments for those insecure critics who dismissed you in the past, and maligned your mettle? I seem to be the only reviewer who liked "On The Edge". So many metal bands profess their love for Motley Crüe; hell even Sabaton named the song referring to their favourite metal acts as "Metal Crüe"; I just don't know why that release was so censured among reviewers. I guess timing is everything, just look at Dragonforce!

  • Martin: Hmmn, what to say to those idiots..."Yeah, go fuck yourself and die!". No, seriously, I'm just kidding here...in life you take some chances along the way, some things work out, some don't; that's just how it is. It's like they say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!", right? Let it be known that I'm here to stay, so those who don't like my music don't buy my fucking albums! Go waste your money on the new Mastodon! That's pretty simply stated; but, to those who love it, I can assure you that I will keep providing you with true metal as long I'm fucking alive and kicking, Amen! :)

MettleAngel: Now that is what we want to hear! Martin, my man of steel and well tested iron in the fire of pure mettle, thank you again for taking some time to indulge me. I so look forward to meeting you in person one day!

  • Martin: No problem brother, anytime. Thank you again for caring and promoting the band. Take care...I give you all the best!

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