In 1982, two brothers in Finland started a Heavy Metal band, called Purgatory. By the end of 1986, that band had been renamed Tarot and released their first album. That album contained the single ‘Wings of Darkness’ and was called The Spell of Iron. One of those brothers would go on to join a band called Nightwish. His name is Marco Hietala.
From the start, it’s clear there are no clues to the future in this release. You won’t find any traditional instruments, no operatic vocals, no female singers. There is no hint of future greatness. What you have is a group of young guys, trying to start a band and follow their heroes. It’s clear that list includes bands like Iron Maiden, but also bands like Motley Crue, with half the album sounding a lot like 80s glam and the other half sounding like straight up Metal of that era. There’s nothing as commercial as Ratt or Poison, but certainly the WASP / Motley end of the street is covered here.
There’s 10 tracks here including one instrumental (’De Mortui Nil Nisi Bene,’ which is apparently Latin for ‘Nothing but the Dead Well’). The remastered CD version includes four extra tracks, two live, one “1995 version” and a “single version,” surprisingly not of either of the singles (‘Wings of Darkness’ and ‘Love’s Not Made for my Kind’). The overall style is very much of its time, and so anyone who was a fan of Metal in those days may be unlikely to think this album is better than Shout at the Devil or Piece of Mind, but it’s definitely new music in an old style and a fascinating window in to the early days of a man who is certainly a major contributor to the Metal scene today.
The final track, ‘Things that Crawl in the Night,’ deserves special mention. It’s a full-on ballad, it doesn’t even get particularly heavy. It’s perhaps a hint that this band always had one eye on commercial success. It’s certainly not consistent with the rest of the album, and a ballad was a must-have to boost sales for the sort of bands that clearly influenced these guys. In contrast, ‘Wings of Darkness,’ their best-known track, has an almost Iron Maiden feel and is a lot more consistent with their overall style.
The album is reasonably generic, and certainly owes a lot to Hair Metal. Nevertheless, given what followed, it’s an interesting curio and a fun listen.