Iron Thrones
The Wretched Sun

As I’ve lamented a few times this year, it really sucked that Burst broke up. They released two of my favorite releases of the 2000s, post-metal or otherwise, and I was really looking forward to a follow-up to Lazarus Bird. Ah well, they say the best way to get over a break-up is to go out and find yourself someone new. Luckily, there are still plenty of fish in the sludgy, post-metal sea. This year brought new albums from Switzerland’s Kruger and Italy’s At the Soundawn, and both are great. Had some good times with them – they both have a lot of what I loved about Burst, even though they’ve got their own quirks as well. However, I’ve since found Iron Thrones and now it’s time to stop looking – ’cause I think I’m gonna fuckin’ marry this one.

First off, credit where credit is due. Erik Thomas raved about these guys at his ahem, other job. I checked ‘em out and was immediately blown away (while also trying not to think about taking on Erik Thomas’ sloppy seconds). Also, these guys are clearly huge Opeth fans, and they’ve been my favorite band since Morningrise. And while other post-metal/sludge bands have earned their Opeth comparisons as well – Burst with their dynamism and texture, and Memfis with their muscular riffage – Iron Thrones really nails it. Monster compositions that tell a story as they lunge and hurtle from one passage to the next, before slowing down to let you catch your breath. Groovy, spiraling riffs, turn-on-a-dime breaks and epic, triumphant crescendos. And of course, a smooth, quiet, thoughtful side, filled with jazzy breaks, delicate rolling drums, and playful acoustic interludes.

That’s only part of the sound though – there’s a lot of traditional American post-hardcore here too, cut with a strain of relentless, melodic metalcore. Opener “Like a Moth to Flame” definitely recalls the latter, with its upbeat pacing and jagged riffs. No been-there-done-that breakdowns or aggressively weird technical noodling here either – Iron Thrones has actual songwriting chops to rely on, and when they need to mix it up, they ably switch into brutal churn and slow, sludgy tromps. “Ever Flowing” and “Against the Grain” are full of those, like the best moments of Still Life and My Arms, Your Hearse smashed together with early Mastodon. And then there’s album centerpiece and highlight “I Once Had the Crown,” which opens with several minutes of chiming, blooming ambience before exploding into a sludgy bellowing, monster truck-pull. Then it dives back into the pensive ambience again, with deep twangy acoustics and sullen spoken word, before the song’s second half brings both halves together in breathtaking, gorgeous, dramatic fashion.

Finally, there’s the vocals – a dual approach much like other bands in the genre. Raw, bestial screams and growls dominate the album, but a couple of times, vocalist Adam Clemans also breaks into a clean, soaring croon. On “Against the Grain” he’s much closer to traditional post-hardcore/emo cleans – think Jupiter-era Cave In – but then on closer “And the Sky Came Falling Down,” he adopts a distant, slightly buried version of Akerfeldt’s restrained and plaintive delivery. Still, I wouldn’t say the cleans are a principal part of Iron Thrones’ sound – just another texture and tool among many that the band employs with fluid, graceful ease.

2010 has brought me two where-the-fuck-did-these-guys-come-from discoveries. Croatia’s  mystical black metal act Johann Wolfgang Pozoj was the first, back in February, and now, towards the end of the year, comes Iron Thrones. Both will be in my top 5 for the year and both are brilliant. Simply put, if you are a fan of any of the above-mentioned bands – Opeth most of all – then you need to buy this album right now. It’ll be the best 6 bucks you’ve spent all year. (Yes, 6 bucks, from their website. And they’re independent, so please support these guys and give them your money!!!).

After just one full-length (also highly recommended) and one EP, these guys have earned a place among my favorites in the genre, and I’m eagerly awaiting to see what they do next. And hey, labels, if you’re reading this – someone snap these guys up. There’s no reason a band this talented should stay independent for long.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
November 16th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Great cd- great review.


  2. Commented by: Todd

    “I Once Had the Crown” is my favorite song to come out this year. This whole album kicks ass. Definitely in my top ten of 2010.


  3. Commented by: Clauricaune

    This sounds right down my alley.

    Btw, didn’t the Pozoj album come out last year?


  4. Commented by: gabaghoul

    yeah but I didn’t hear it until early this year so it still counts :) not like it was widely available.


  5. Commented by: opy666

    I’m with you on a couple of points…Opeth is fucking brilliant and Iron Thrones’ first album was amazing…however this album pales in comparison to Visions of Light…it is decent, but won’t find a place in my top 20 this year.


  6. Commented by: terp

    Just got this & the free EP from Origin of Darkness. put them together & you have a nice, doomy split CD.


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