Metal is the love
-- Ironborn --
|■||Bjorn Coysman||Guitar, backing grunts|
|■||John Mortelez||Guitars, grunts|
Review written by Stijn “Metal Shredder” Daneels.
[METAL SHREDDER REPORTING]
Ironborn is a band I’ve been following since around 2014 or 2015, back when they were still a simple but effective cover band, performing songs from classic acts like Slayer, Iron Maiden, Angel Witch and many more. However, it was also around this time that Ironborn decided to make their own material and that resulted in their eponymous debut EP back in 2017 (which I reviewed, check it here: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/64).
Now, six years later, Ironborn returns with their first full-length. Since their old EP was a real joy for me to listen and still remains to this day, I’m obviously very curious to check out their new stuff, especially after hearing some of those new songs live at Plutofest 2022.
“After the Flood” is Ironborn’s first album and is once again an independent release sent to us by our Dutch friends over at Hard Life Promotion.
The album kicks off with “Bloodhound,” a song that switches between slow, melodic guitars and fast-paced thrash inspired riffing, all backed by sweet, clean vocals that give the whole thing some power metal vibes. Then comes “Prison Ground” and don’t let the title deceive you, this is a beautiful anthem track celebrating metal and all the cool things that come along with it. I particularly like the phrase “metal is the love.” The song has both badass guitar riffs and slower instrumental parts that give the song a little ballad feel as well. Power and intimacy, I love it.
After a short instrumental called “Anpu” (nice little combo of electronic and acoustic instruments BTW) comes “Guardian of the Scales” and in this particular tune John’s death metal inspired grunts tag along with Tom’s angelic singing and this duet adds good variety to this slowly pounding tune. It’s great to see the band further expanding on this dual vocal style after briefly experimenting with it during their debut EP.
Then the title track of “After the Flood” takes it turn, an enjoyable tune featuring the usual Ironborn elements but not quite as memorable as some of the album’s earlier tracks and I also felt the ending to this track was rather abrupt. An instrumental track called “Destiny’s Revenge” comes next and then the band moves on to “Lilith” a full-on thrasher that will certainly provoke some headbanging and moshing.
The album’s penultimate track is “1568,” a single that Ironborn originally released in 2018 in an acoustic version. This version, however, features electronic instrumentation while still keeping the song’s melancholic atmosphere. It feels a bit like a power ballad. It’s hard to say which version of this song is better, but I did wish the band included the original acoustic version of “1568” as a bonus. The band wraps up the album with another single from the recent past, “Into Darkness,” one final slow but old-school metal tune with the dual clean and grunt vocals being its highlight feature.
One thing I’ve always loved about Ironborn is their effective blend of heavy, thrash and power metal and their focus on guitar solos and operatic vocals with the occasional grunts providing a nice extra. Some of the tracks on “After The Flood” function as sequels to earlier Ironborn tracks such as the instrumental “Destiny’s Revenge” being a successor to the instrumental “Dawn of Destiny” from the eponymous EP and the song “Lilith” being another dark thrasher similar to “The Curse” which was featured on the previous release.
Not much has changed regarding Ironborn’s style compared between this album and their first EP, but I did notice a solid improvement in production with “After the Flood” sounding nice and crisp and less muffled compared to the EP and the artwork has also got a nice improvement (which I’ll be discussing in the next chapter, obviously). Nothing groundbreaking all things considered, but Ironborn’s new album is definitely a positive evolution for the band.
The cover art of Ironborn’s “After the Flood” features the blurry image of a dark blue, eyeless mask with a purple cloud behind it. The whole artwork has various shades of purple, blue, red and even pink and I like it, especially compared to the “artwork” of Ironborn’s debut EP which simply featured a black background with the band’s fist logo in the middle.
[SHARPEST SHREDS & BLUNTEST BLADES]
For me, I’d go with the mighty anthem tune “Prison Ground” and the hard-hitting “Lilith” as my favorite tracks on this album while the title track (which didn’t feature anything all that memorable) and the “Anpu” instrumental which was too short and didn’t provide any buildup to the “Guardian of the Scales” track for which it served as an intro.
8,5 blurry masks out of 10. Expanding on the great stuff from their self-titled debut EP, Ironborn’s “After the Flood” continues the band’s old-school mélange of heavy, thrash and power metal while adding higher production values and a few new tricks. Certainly recommended if you’ve enjoyed the band’s first EP or if you’re looking for well-written and well-performed metal tunes inspired by the legends of the past.