I’m not entirely sure how to approach this recording. Epic – The Iron Philharmonic, Philharmonic usually referencing an orchestra. Is there an actual orchestra playing here with the crunchy guitars and general heavy metal vibe? I can’t ascertain. It certainly seems so, although the only players listed include writers and primary performers Edward Pszeniczka on piano and guitars, and Jay Jurcenko on percussion. Charles Mulvey plays all the lead guitar solos and Steve Plump plays bass on two tracks while sharing Producer credits with Pszeniczka and Jurcenko.
It begins with a delicate piano and leads into an “epic” sound, with drums and guitar joining in. The mood recalls the title, “Forgotten Tango.” Next up is “Fearless,” guitar reminding one of AC/DC or perhaps a forgotten Ritchie Blackmore riff? This song is an excellent venue to feature the soloing of Charles Mulvey.
I find “With One Voice” to be venturing closer to prog rock and would also make good soundtrack material for a hero-oriented movie I appreciate the heavy metal references in “Drive,” the deliberate and rhythmic guitar chugging along and the piano singing out a busy bass line makes this one of the more compelling cuts on the CD.
Especially strong is “The Moment of Truth,” where I am certain I hear strings and brass (or synthesized reproductions thereof) that were also evident on the title track “Aurora Australis.” “TMoT” would also make good score material for an ominous mood in film. The finale, “El Yunque,” is a pretty piano ballad regrettably played with entirely too much force.
I find the material here to be well played, tight and crisp with some good changes all through. Unfortunately, it also feels like a lot of ideas without a lot of focus. It could certainly be used as a demo to pass out for auditioning singers, at times seeming a bit incomplete without strong melodies. The songs aren’t fleshed out enough to be great instrumental recordings and may be improved by layering lyrics and melody over the top. Of course if used behind action in a movie, they would be good as well.
Sometimes Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Deep Purple or Black Sabbath references appear as any metal band might demonstrate. I can definitely see the guys from Trans-Siberian Orchestra sitting up and taking notice as well, perhaps signing these talented guys when next TSO goes out touring.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on January 12th, 2007