Epic sounding heavy metal is as victorious in 2015 as it has ever been with more bands than can be counted battling it out for the crown of the next Manilla Road. However, what may come as a surprise is that the criminally underrated Ironsword‘s new effort None But The Brave puts the band in their 20th year of existence and sees them getting closer in status to the bands they so keenly emulate.
Their latest full length is exactly what long term fans of Ironsword will be anticipating. As with their previous albums call to arms choruses, mighty riffing and battle themed lyricism, make up the album’s 12 tracks, demonstrating that perhaps the band have little left to prove.
For those uneducated to these Portuguese swordwielders, album opener Forging The Sword is a fine introduction, with the high tempo gauntlet thrown down with their usual effortless swagger.
The song, as with many on the album, mixes together the band’s Mark Shelton worshipping high nasal vocal style with the more gruff approach of frontman Tann. Although Tann’s vocals are certainly an acquired taste, they give a rough and ready charm to tracks such as Army Of Darkness that prove powerful even if at first a little off-putting.
Ironsword are certainly willing to bear their influences for all to see and at least two of their songs on the latest album appear to be purposeful tributes to the giants of 80s epic metal. The title track is a nod to Omen and album closer The Shadow Kingdom (also a tribute to their fantastically consistent label) turns in to pure Manilla Road adoration.
Where with some bands this could appear as a lack of ambition, with Ironsword it seems that they simply wish to demonstrate why these bands are so essential and pay a welcome tribute to their favourite acts.
Also on Ironsword‘s side is that they have the musicianship to shine as their own band. None But The Brave has a collection of well thought out riffs which deliver instant impact such as The Usurper but also have the quality to last for return spins and become instantly recognisable.
The only real downside to the latest full length is the dodgy artwork depicting an Arnold Schwarzenegger wanna be hacking down an undead army. Ironsword are far from the only band in this field to commit such corny artwork to their music, but it does look more like a budget computer game than a metal album at first glance.
Ironsword have continued to follow their purposefully narrow minded path and as a result created one of the most rousing efforts of the year so far.
Scribed by: Alex Varley