The Wretched Sun
posted on 10/2010 By:
I’m not going to rehash the family tree of Minnesota’s Iron Thrones that includes Nehemiah, Veil of Maya, Dead to Fall and Everest -- you can read my review of Iron Thrones' excellent debut, Visions of Light, and get the back story.
What you do need to know is that (with the help of this website’s message board members), Iron Thrones won the No Label Needed competition and got themselves a whole lot of help with the recording, promotion and release of this follow-up album. Not that they needed it -- I have a feeling, whether they had won the contest or not, The Wretched Sun would still have been a simply killer record.
As with the debut, The Wretched Sun’s starting point is Opeth with a dash of progressive post-rock (Callisto, Burst, The Ocean). The whole album is about hues and textures, light and dark, whether separated into languid acoustics and crescendos of metallic heft or melding into movements of emotive brilliance that combine both. The Wretched Sun is an elegant-yet-urgent, creative, artful record that highlights how good an unsigned band can be.
While the Opeth influence seems to be a little less evident, and vocally, the album is pure post-rock roars, screams and croons, the fact is that Iron Thrones appears to have carved their own niche within the subtext of those influences. They mix plenty of spacious melodies, melancholic moods and dynamic shifts into the tapestry of overt influences that often defies one single influence at a time.
With 6 songs and an ample 41 minutes, there’s rarely a wasted note like many of their contemporaries. The songs writhe and shudder with clever pacing, again intermingling gorgeous acoustics and atmospherics with layered bouts of epic, mountainous riffage and even some cantering metalcore/melodeath injections. Outstanding opener “Like a Moth to a Flame” is a window to the album's soul, setting the mood for the rest of the record with a brilliant, shimmering climax. An Akerfeldt-ian trot and gloss arises for “Ever Flowing”, but the band manages not be as heavy-handed with it as Visions of Light, with it being the album's shortest actual track, and they follow it up with the stunning opening blastbeat and angular pacing of “Against the Grain”, which also features a brilliant, stern segue after a tranquil bridge around 5 minutes in. Plus it’s the first track where Adam Clemans (ex-Veil of Maya) unleashes some very well done clean singing, coming in at the song's epic ending.
The album’s center is the 11-minute masterpiece, “I Once Had the Crown” which starts with delicate acoustics and transitions to the expected lurch and roar. However, the song’s stunning midsection and climax feature a rending chord progression, synths and a melody line you’d expect to hear on a Daylight Dies or Insomnium album. It’s truly magnificent and might be the most complete and emotional 11 minutes of music I’ve heard in 2010 so far. The interlude “Forever Glowing” and blues/hardcore/Opeth collision of closer “And the Sky Came Falling Down” allow the listener to catch his/her breath. But it's hard not to revisit “I Once Had the Crown” over and over again.
With The Wretched Sun's professional production and $6 download price tag, those lamenting the loss of Burst and Isis should look into this band now at their website. Seriously – pay attention, fans and LABELS.
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