Visions Of Light
posted on 12/2008 By:
Quick story - there was a Minnesota metalcore band called Nehemiah, they released a killer album called The Asphyxiation Process and a swansong EP called Lenore. They split up. Members went on to help out Dead To Fall and also form a new band called Everest, who released a fine EP called Where the Earth Meets the Sky (which has been reviewed at this very site). Then Everest sorta broke up and remaining Nehemiah/Everest guitarist Steve Henningsgard resurfaced with some new friends (including Metal Review forum member Ragnarok aka vocalist Adam Clemens), a new moniker and a fucking killer album that’s free to download at the band’s site.
The end result? Arguably the best free, self released record I’ve heard that’s right up there with the like The Living Fields and The Pax Cecilia for free self released brilliance crying for a record deal. Now, folks hoping for Nehemiah reincarnation or even something sounding like Everest will be sorely disappointed as Iron Thrones treads a different path; a brilliant path that sounds like Opeth crossed with Cult of Luna or any of the other top notch shoegazer/post rock bands (Buried Inside, Burst, Isis, etc). Yeah - this is that good.
Swelling, epic riffs and builds intermingle with delicate acoustic hues and a killer sense of mood and deft songwriting make this on par with any of the genre’s better efforts, but without completely sounding like an Isis rip off, as the Opeth influence keeps things grounded and more varied, though some may simply put it down as pure Opeth mimicry. Either way, this is frigging good (did I mention free?) stuff with the opening chords of epic opener “Swell to the Surface” promising something special and Visions of Light delivers.
With a sturdy professional production, Iron Thrones isn’t content to simply huff and lurch by in a typical drawn out 70 minute plus post rock fugue, but instead delivers to the point time changes and atmosphere galore, glossed with truly epic throes that vary from expected ebbs and flows to an Opethian canter and the light/dark hues that come with such an influence. Simply listen to “The Dark Design” for a simple microcosm of the band's sound and then tell me the riff at 4:29 isn’t about perfect. “Heart of the Light” is pure Opeth with its layered gallop and evocative solo work while “Still Waters” displays a somber energy; (early) Opeth sounding pace - a mix that’s hard to perfect and a mid song acoustic section that’s to die for.
One could argue the Opeth influence is a bit heavy handed (i.e. “The Final Farewell” and its simply killer climax), but to the band’s credit, there are no clean vocals or purely self indulgent tracks (though “Wading” is a rather needless instrumental interlude), just some tasteful acoustics here and there, a piano intro to the otherwise more urgent “Illumination” and its swelling, almost Middle Eastern peak and frankly when it's done this well and with some post rock builds and ebbs thrown in, there’s a little character and slightly more than a mere Akerfeldt worship.
Rangy penultimate 11 minute track “Cover of Smoke” is a shift to more lurching, layered, shimmering post rock restraint and mood with yet another killer acoustic break and a brilliant emotional final few minutes. Closer “Shadows Revealed” seems a bit of a let down after the epic brilliance of the previous track, as it comes across more like a Misery Signals metalcore song but its still quite well done, showing the bands depth and ability to cross genres seamlessly and ending a superb (free) album on a worthy note.
Look out for these guys and check out this (free!) album here:
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