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Ira Tenax – Portrait of the Fallen

Ira Tenax
Portrait of the Fallen
by Erika Kuenstler at 21 March 2015, 2:34 PM

With the myriad of big bands out there releasing album after highly polished album, it’s all too easy to forget about the underground scene. Yet there are all sorts of hidden gems hiding in the fringes of obscurity. One such act I recently came across is the Melodic Death Metal band IRA TENAX from Germany, who have been around for over 15 years, and have recently unleashed their album “Portrait of the Fallen” onto the world.

With a total play time of over three quarters of an hour, “Portrait of the Fallen” has ten tracks that encompass numerous elements that are all amalgamated together, ranging from breakdowns to galloping riffs and driving percussion work. You have your more relentless tracks, such as “The Man Behind”, which is reminiscent of bands such as KATAKLYSM, especially in terms of song structure, and harsh vocal style. However, the unexpected clean vocal parts on songs such as “Shanghai Nights” gives the album a more melodic twist, which complements the heavier sections, whilst soaring guitar solos bring in searing moments of  sheer beauty. Use of chanting adds darker undertows to “End of Days”, whilst I can imagine that the utter brutality of “Lord of War” live must get one hell of a mosh pit going.

There are some catchy hooks and melodies liberally scattered throughout, giving the album variation from one track to the next. However, you still get the feeling that the band plays it on the safe side, with similar song structures and tempos used throughout. Given how well the band has mastered this mid-tempo Melodic style of Death Metal, IRA TENAX are clearly very decent musicians, and one wonders what they would sound like if they were to push their skills a bit more. The recording quality is also quite low, with the guitars in particular having a slightly fuzzy sound. Nevertheless, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can be a nice break from the over-produced records being churned out each day, as well as adding a rougher and rawer edge to the music.

Overall, “Portrait of the Fallen” may perhaps be nothing new or ground breaking, but it is nevertheless a strong release that positively oozes potential, and which shows that the underground is still very much alive and kicking. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of more Melodic Death Metal, or if you’re into KATAKLYSM’s earlier stuff.

3 Star Rating

1. Intro
2. Senses
3. Shanghai Nights
4. The Man Behind
5. Haunted
6. Darkest Hour
7. End Of Days
8. Stand Alone
9. Lord Of War
10. On The Edge
Martin Schulz – Vocals
Marcus Teeuwen – Guitars
Max Wilm – Guitars
Marcus Alka – Bass
Dennis Burneleit – Drums
Record Label: STF Records


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