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Ironguard – Towards Victory

Ironguard
Towards Victory
by Rachel Montgomery at 10 June 2019, 6:06 PM

IRONGUARD has been going strong since 2008, and with some changes in their lineup, is releasing “Towards Victory”, an album that’s been in the works since 2014. It stayed in development for the last five years due to the exit of their old singer, Niklas Andersen. Does it reflect the work that was put in? The short version: the instrumentals are harmonious and on-point, and for a self-produced album, the production is good. However, I did not care for the vocals, and I think they needed to be re-written to fit the singer better (or re-recorded with the new singer).

Their opening song, “Desertion” is a 2-minute intro that starts with a simple bass chord and adds more and more until we have complex, melodic riffs on top of one another in pretty good harmony. It’s a good showcase for what the band can do instrumentally, and it got me excited to hear the rest of the album. Then, the first song with vocals comes on. “Second Sun” wastes no time starting heavy with some good, old-fashioned power chords and thrashes. When the vocalist starts, it goes downhill. While his voice is clear and sounds nice, there’s no power behind it. It’s loud enough in the production, but when it tries to project those mid-level/high-range notes, it’s pitchy. I enjoyed the chorus where some more oomph, but I still think the vocalist needs more work.

Strangers in Hell” starts off with some good harmonies between the guitars and goes into some great thrash-work. The vocalist is better at first, but that’s because his notes are more clipped, and he doesn’t have as many of those long notes he needs to project. When he does, I have the same problem as before. “Free Again” is better, at first, when the vocalist sticks to his lower register, but when he goes back up, he sounds like he has a cold. It’s to the point where it distracts me from the great, harmonious instrumentals and I can’t enjoy the rest of the song. Same with “Wild Fire Pride”. When he growls and sticks to a clipped, lower register, the song is palatable. When he goes into those high, soaring notes, I want to hand him a tissue and some sinus meds.

Sentenced” is their first slow song on the album and it starts off with some nice, broken chords that sound lovely. The vocals are more digestible since he doesn’t have to project, and thank God for autotune on the chorus because if he projected his voice there, it would’ve been awful. Overall, he still sounds like he has a cold, but the production saves the song, a little.

By the time “Heroic Return” comes on, I’m waiting through the solid intro to hear what fresh Hell the vocals have in store. It did not disappoint. Honestly, I want to like the songs due to the wonderful instrumentals, but the vocals kill it for me. I will mention that “Tyrant of War” is a mediocre track vocally, as the singer’s lower register is nicer, and he has good growls (I also noticed on the third track and on the next track “Storm the Walls”, which has better vocal quality since the vocalist sticks to shorter, lower notes). The final track, “Towards Victory”, showcases the best of the vocalist because while it’s operatic, it sticks to the singer’s lower register, where he projects better and can get some good growls in. As I said before, he’s not a bad singer; it’s just apparent to me that he’s using his upper register too much when it doesn’t have the necessary natural power behind it. For this reason, it’s my favorite track on the album.

Overall, I enjoyed the instrumentals, but I think the vocalist needs to do more training or pick a different singing style that fits his voice. I would suggest lowering the vocal notes to fit the best part of his register. However, I understand they got a new singer in the meantime. While I wasn’t a fan of this album, I look forward to seeing what the band puts out with their new singer because I believe it will be technically fantastic.

Songwriting: 4
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 8



Overall: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Desertion
2. A Second Sun
3. Strangers in Hell
4. Free Again
5. Wild Fire Pride
6. Sentenced
7. Heroic Return
8. Tyrant of War
9. Storm the Walls
10. Towards Victory
Lineup:
Niklas Andersen – Vocals
Jeppe Campradt – Guitar
Simon Grástein – Guitar
Søren Rosendahl – Bass
René Lund – Drums
Record Label: Heathen Tribes Records
     


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Edited 17 September 2019
 

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