Ironwood
Storm Over Sea

The debut from this Sydney Australia progressive folk-metal act was ambitious, but didn’t quite reach its potential. Fire:Water:Ash was a bit too wandering and unfocused for its own good. The maritime themed follow-up however, is an improved effort that sees the act fulfill the promise of the debut.

Though hailing from Australia, the influences of Ironwood are easy to pin down from the damp, folky pastures of artistic American Black metal like Agalloch and Nechochwen to the rural, acoustic, ethnic flourishes of old Ulver and Negura Bunget. Full of rangy mesmerizing atmospherics, clean vocals and delicate strumming ambience littered with occasional bursts of brittle black metal, fans of all the aforementioned bands will certainly appreciate Ironwood’s, at times enthralling delivery.

The metallic introductory march of “Hail Sign” serves as a mood setter before the 11-minute “Infinite Sea” imbues the recent Agalloch with shrill tremolo picked black metal laced with acoustic interludes, clean vocals and jazzy bass lines. It shows Ironwood at their best especially the acoustic blast beat 3 or minutes in and the nice riff that closes the song out. And it’s clear that Ironwood have improved their black metal element as heard on the other 11-minute tracks, “Weather the Storm”, the more complicated and convoluted stylings of “A Bond to Sever” (which has a simply gorgeous last half) and the shorter “Will to Live”. As amid all the languid atmospherics, shimmering acoustic segues and relaxing interludes (“Arctic Tern”, “Share the Burden”) which all meld beautifully, the band seems just as comfortable belting out surprisingly fierce yet intelligently crafted black metal riffage.

My only minor quibble is with some of the croonier clean vocals (last part of “Weather the Storm”, closing ballad “When it’s all Over”) which are just a little off and cheesy, sometime reminding me of a Christmas carol. I prefer some of the deeper chant approach as heard on the otherwise seething “Will to Live” and “A Bond to Sever”, but its doesn’t stop Storm Over Sea being yet another self release gem in 2010 from a young promising band that could be the ones to take over Agalloch’s mantle in the future.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
December 6th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Barak

    “Agalloch’s mantle”

    Har har. Deft touch.


  2. Commented by: Gabaghoul

    The black metal elements sound like reason to check these guys out again but if the clean box still haven’t improved then I’m still a little leery. Good write up though.


  3. Commented by: Gabaghoul

    vox not box. Damn you autocorrect


  4. Commented by: Jobby

    I’m a big fan of this one – it’s really grown on me (particularly after listening to it late last night on a long, lonely night drive).

    The clean vocals are much improved from the last disc. This is definitely worth checking out.


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