SummarySongs of the village
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Along with Hypnotic Scenery and Dissolving of Prodigy, Silent Stream of Godless Elegy were one of the leaders of the Czech doom/death metal movement and just like many other bands, they would abandon their heavier roots not long after (it’s not like you haven’t heard this story before, right?), but there’s nothing to fear here. Iron sounds like a faithful doom/death metal affair that recalls nostalgia, folklore and melancholy.
To be more specific: Iron recaptures the essence of an old Czech village and the traditions that come with. There’s a clear folk influence part of the guitar work and chanted female vocals that recall free-spirited women dancing during village rituals companion harsh vocals. The latter range from gruff, Root-esque barks to deeper growls in the vein of Amorphis and as strange as that may sound, they’re a worthy feature of the record. Violins play a huge role here, but don’t just appear during the record’s bleaker sections. Indeed, an everlasting stream of sadness this is not, as Iron sounds rather adaptive; slower riffs highlight the band’s gloomier ideal, but it never takes long before tracks head out of the dark and into the light for a while.
It’s all about the record’s consistent song-driven format, even if Iron lacks some clear knock out tracks that prevent me from revisiting the album too often. Of course, you could never fault Iron for sounding unoriginal and at its best you end up with a melt pot of ideas that are actually well executed. “Ugly Jewel” makes a decent introduction, where engaged violin riffs match with folky guitar work that even becomes pretty blackened in character during the storming tremolo segment. “Desolate Remain” almost makes me think of an alternative universe in which Katatonia circa Dance of December Souls had gone into a doom/folk direction by the time the vocals roar over that melancholic riff short after. Due to the lack of sudden pacing shifts the song sound a bit more morose in mood when compared to the rest…but who said that has to be a problem? “Apotheosis” brings to mind early Amorphis, if only you’d get rid of the awful clean vocals, goofy organs and lame Middle-Eastern guitar leads. Instead, this finishing track sounds moving, yet somewhat heavy. Melancholic violins interweave with those flexible guitars and thanks to the subtle tempo changes, you never know what to expect next.
Few tracks leave a bitter taste in my mouth and not unexpected, these also happen to be the tamer ones on Iron. The spoken word-driven “Last…” not only sees the guitars taking a step back, but also gets plagued by some terrible baritone vocals that recall a more annoying Aaron Stainthorpe. “Burned by the Love of Christ” and “Amber Sea” also features plenty of unnecessary spoken sections (even if they’re more tolerable on the former and get mixed with growls on the latter) – therefore they aren’t ideal songs either. The former is at least rather short, but the latter could have done without those lifeless chords that get repeated for a lifetime…this isn’t Brave Murder Day after all, right? Interludes range from brief breaks that are either driven by acoustic motives or female chants. But either way, sound like outtakes of the actual and somewhat longer songs themselves; meaning I could take them or leave them.
As I had already said earlier, it wouldn’t take long before Silent Stream of Godless Elegy would ditch doom/death metal all together, but as far as obscure doom/death metal is concerned, Iron should be satisfying enough if you’re looking for something original that also remains metallic at its core.
Release date: December 1996
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