Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
With traceable origins dating back to the middle 1980s as Iron Angel – to 1980, if you count its three-year stretch under the moniker Metal Gods – this Hamburg, Germany band are a staple powerhouse at this point.
The band first formed as the Judas Priest song-title inspired Metal Gods, but changed their name to the novel-inspired Iron Angel in 1983. At the time, the band consisted of vocalist Dirk Schröder, guitarists Peter Wittke and Sven Strüven, bassist Thorsten Lohmann, and drummer Mike Matthes. Within a year, they independently issued their first demo, 1984’s seven-song ‘Power Metal Attack’.
The title was not misleading either, as the quintet crafted music instilled with razor-sharp guitars, rapid-fire drumming, and a bit gravel-throated, but full range vocals. They would follow this demo with two more in 1984, ‘Legions Of Evil’ and ‘Demo III ’84’.
It was not until 1985 that Iron Angel had their breakthrough, with the Steamhammer Records release ‘Hellish Crossfire‘. The album’s fast-paced speed metal delivery had a magnetic pull for fans of heavy metal and the band’s popularity was quickly escalating.
After once again independently issuing the ‘Warpke 20.07.1985′ live demo in ’85, Iron Angel served up a searing full-length for Steamhammer the following year, with 1986’s ‘Winds Of War’. Unfortunately, cracks began to appear in the band’s armor when they prepared to undertake its touring cycle after the release.
As the band prepared to support King Diamond in Germany, bassist Thorsten Lohmann exited and was temporarily replaced by Günther Moritz on the tour run. Iron Angel would officially disband in late ’86 – early 1987, with Dirk Schröder and Mike Matthes forming the band Superstition with the son of Ritchie Blackmore, J.R. Blackmore (who’d served as a guest guitarist on ‘Winds Of War’) in 1990.
However, Iron Angel had more metal to share. In 1997, they reformed as a quartet without Lohmann and Strüven, but now with Moritz as an official member. This incarnation of the band began recording a third studio album, under the working title of ‘The Rebirth’, but it would never see the light of day.
In 2000, guitarist Peter “Piet” Wittke was unfortunately killed in an automobile accident. 2007 saw the issuing of a new demo, ‘Back From Hell’, the effort of only two members, Dirk Schröder on vocals and Mike Matthes playing all other instruments. With no suitable members located and things not happening in an inspirational way at that point, Iron Angel soon disbanded for a second time. Sadly, guitarist Sven Strüven died in 2008 without a specified cause of death public at this time.
2015 saw the reformation of Iron Angel once again, with a brand new line-up that featured Schröder returning, with drummer Mike Matthes (replaced by Mäx Behr in 2016), along with new guitarists Mischi Meyer and Joachim Folta (also replaced in 2016, by Robert Altenbach), and bassist Didy Mackel.
This modern era of Iron Angel was quickly presented with offers to play live. They did, starting with the Headbangers Open Air in 2015, the Metal Magic Festival in 2016, and a successful tour of South America in 2017.
That brings us right up to here and now in 2018, where Mäx Behr, Dirk Schröder, Didy Mackel, Mitsch Meyer, and Robert Altenbach – as Iron Angel – are preparing to release their first new studio album in over 32 years!
May 4, 2018 will see the worldwide release of the long-awaited third studio full-length from Iron Angel, ‘Hellbound’, through Scandinavia’s Mighty Music. The anticipation for the effort was further ignited recently with the band’s release of a brand new official video for the song “Ministry Of Metal” from the record.
‘Hellbound‘ will be released on limited blood-red vinyl, black vinyl, CD, and digital. It is a big priority release for Mighty Music and is planned to be heavily advertised and promoted worldwide. Pre-order the CD at the band’s official webstore:
Currently, Iron Angel is booking summer festivals and a European tour for Autumn 2018. They are confirmed for the following shows this Spring, with more to be announced soon.