Ironwood - :Fire:Water:Ash: review
|Release date:||January 2009|
01. Önd Ascending
02. The Oncoming Storm
03. The Raven Song
04. Jarnvidr Gallows
05. The Serpent Seeks Its Tail
06. Tide Of Memory
07. Love In Death
08. River Of Fire
09. Eihwaz Descending
When I first put this disc; Ironwood's debut album ":Fire:Water:Ash:" on to play I immediately drew correlation with Borknagar's Origin album. In the case of those guys I expected Black/Viking Metal but received soft acoustic material. In the case of Ironwood I was promised a kind of Folk/Progressive Metal blend but was given similar acoustic music. Once the second track "The Oncoming Storm" came around though I figured I'd be treated to a little more variation. It came forward with heavier electric riffs playing a kind of "jiggy" tune with the same booming vocals. The surprises don't end there though! Ironwood has more to offer.
The Oncoming Storm hadn't even finished before slowing down to some more acoustic work. As well as that it also launches into a kind of Folk/Black Metal style, complete with harmonised harsh rasps. These more extreme moments don't appear all that frequently on :Fire:Water:Ash: but they sound great. Having faster music and these drawn out cries is a good effect. Let me just say too, they're miles better than the whispered "pained" shrieks I heard a couple of times on the album. Those sometimes gurgled outputs can wreck the aura a bit I think. The track The Oncoming Storm is a pretty good representation of what can be expected on this album though; soothing acoustic sections (often with harmonised vocals), some kind of "Neofolk"/Progressive Metal and Black Metal. Just like their forefathers in Agalloch, Ironwood is pretty hard to classify.
Overall the music of Ironwood contains songs to relax to. I could envision most people easily being able to lay down with their eyes closed listening to :Fire:Water:Ash:. Especially songs like "Love In Death" which has soothing sections, a delightful solo passage and then a blend of the previous acoustics with the Folk/Progressive sound and various vocal styles. This song I find brings everything together and is a kind of epitome of everything heard so far. All throughout the dark atmospheres add that extra layer contributing to the heathenistic aura which can be easily immersed in.
Coming in at over an hour and ten minutes and with so many softer acoustic passages, :Fire:Water:Ash: won't quite be for everyone. Some will lose patience with it but if you have the time I'd suggest giving this interesting blend of the soft, the mid-ground and the extreme a go. If there was such a thing as "Heathen Metal" I'd say it would be along the lines of Ironwood.
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