|Ironwood is an ambitious band. Its mix of Black Metal, melancolic soft arpegios, clean male vox, somber choirs, pagan mood and epic breath shows quite a great self confidence. There are indeed many ideas thrown in this first self released full length (I must here salute the total professional look of the packaging; the band’s purpose is obviously to impress on every level).|
However - yes, I’d bet you felt that ‘however’ slowly coming- however I say, the talent doesn’t totally match the ambition.
First, the clean voice, often out of tune, forced and unnatural to the tessitura of the singer. His Black-ish yelling is more convincing even if quite unpersonal. Secondly, I find the songwriting too versatile, the soft acoustic passages (perfectly crafted) are often suddenly interrupted to give way to brutal parts, be it heroic war-like chants or fast Black Metal accelerations.
I must say, the more I listen to ':Fire:Water:Ash:', the more I think the potential is wasted. It has beautiful nocturnal, ‘wandering in the forest’ moods (that are often underlined by ominous keyboard lines) and at the same time, weird and poor violent outbursts. They sound pointless, really unnecessary.
But (this review is full of detours!) when the band decides to hold up and let its melodic ideas flow along, it gives some interestingly intense moments. I think of the track 'Jarnvidr Gallows' that, if every soft acoustic enchanting and though severe parts had been edited and reassembled in one coherent block, would have been one hell of a track. Unfortunatly, once again, faster parts ruin it. They are quite average per se and above all, the radically different moods they impulse just doesn't fit with the rest. There are two albums within this oneá; two albums that intersect with one another. One mellow, dreamy and epic one (think also of Ulver's 'Kveldsanger') and one violent, angry one (think of Solefald and Borknagar).
To conclude, I’d say there’s still some road to ramble for Ironwood to reach the effectivness of bands like Drudkh, Winterfylleth or Agalloch, names that come to mind when listening to ':Fire:Water:Ash:'. Anyway, that is already quite enjoyable and one could imagine the next opus will be of a higher quality.
1. Índ Ascending
2. The Oncoming Storm
3. The Raven Song
4. Jarnvidr Gallows
5. The Serpent Seeks Its Tail
6. Tide Of Memory
7. Love In Death
8. River Of Fire
9. Eihwaz Descending
Duration : Approx. 70 minutes.
Visit the Ironwood bandpage.