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Local band releases second cd in city

By Calvin Daniels
Staff Writer
Ryan Crouse

The heavy metal duo of Ryan Crouse and Sam Derkatch; better known as Iron Dragon, have just released their second CD in as many years.

Open The Gates hit the streets in Yorkton last week, and duo front man Crouse, who also self-produced the album with his own recording software, said the disk is a major step forward from their earlier disk.

"I wouldnıt even compare them," he said. "Iım still proud of the work recording the first, but I see it more as a demo now."

Itıs a case where Crouse said his musicianship, and that of bassist Derkatch has grown since the first CD.

"My guitar has improved even throughout the album from the first song to the last song," said Crouse. He added his partner also grew on bass. "His knowledge of bass has grown immensely from the first album too."

Crouse admitted time on the guitar is a bit different for Iron Dragon than some bands, since they do not generally play live. As a result they rely on practice only to hone their skills.

"Myself, I try to get a little bit of playing in every day," he said, adding on days he works that may mean only half an hour, but he still tries to get the guitar in his hands.

As for the new album, it has been about a year in production.

"I started working on the album probably a month after the last one came out," he said, adding the recording process was also one carried out over the months. "I kind of recorded every song as I came up with it, so the recording process was totally different."

That said, Crouse said he was still learning and naturing in terms of recording as they went along. For example after a couple of songs had been laid down, he purchased a higher quality microphone. "It was a huge difference.

"The other one was good but more open... This one is more directed at the sound, so you get a tighter song."

Crouse said he can tell the difference in the recording between the mics, adding he "could have went back and re-recorded a couple of songs," but chose to leave them as they were as the music really grew throughout the album.

It was also a case of occasionally running into a bump in the recording process, and then having to go online to find solutions.

"It definitely got easier, but when we hit a problem weıd spend three days figuring out what went wrong," said Crouse.

The experience of the first CD was also important.

"Doing it once we kind of knew what to do, and what not to do," said Crouse.

In terms of knowing what to do, Crouse said he "always had sort of a plan," in terms of what he wanted to achieve musically with Open The Gates. "... I call it sort of a concept album."

"When we started learning then the flow was just there," he said.

Crouse said the songs follow a fantasy tale "I have in my mind."

The story has a castle guarded by mighty gates, which the king promises his subjects will protect them forever. However, over night the gates are breached.

Whether the kingdom survives is something Crouse is not determined on the CD, to the point the last song is entitled Welcome To Osiris, a Goddess who is both the bringer of life and of death.

"Itıs up to your imagination what happened, if the people lived, or not," he said.

When asked what songs were his favourite on the disk, Crouse was quick to select The Fire Within and The Gates Shall Never Burn.

Crouse said he also likes the enduing to The Fallen Man, which ends with a bunch of people talking in a garbled mix. The voices include an old man, and a little girl, all worked off Crouseıs own voice.

"It took about six hours of editing, to get the different voices into a 30 second clip," he said.

While the album is an instrumental one, Crouse said as was the case with Iron Dragonıs debut CD, there are lyrics for many of the songs on Open The Gates, but the duo does not have a vocalist to bring the words to life.

As it stands Crouse said he likes the new disk a lot, and early feedback on it has been positive too. He said it has been likened to something between Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, which his said he takes as a huge compliment because that was sort of what he was going for. "That was really one of the ideas I had in my head," he said.

The new album is barely out of the box, but Crouse said he is already eyeing the next disk.

"I already have an idea for one song," he said, adding it was something that came to him as he worked with a new computer drum program. "I got this drum beat started, and just started play around with it."

While work may be under way on a third CD, Crouse is also busy promoting Open The Gates.

The disk has been sent to metal radio stations around the world including Italy, Australia and Belgium.

"I sent to stations in nine countries, it cost me about 50 bucks," he said with a smile.

In the case of Belgium the CD went to Overdrive Radio, the oldest metal station in the country.

"Itıs kind of an honour when they asked for the second CD," he said, adding they gave airplay to three songs on Iron dragonıs debut CD.

Locally the disk is available at Fuzztone Music, and CD Plus, and it will soon be available online at CD Baby.

"There might even be ring tones available," said Crouse with a grin.