If you’re one who commonly clicks on a review and exits out after seeing a not so pleasant score, hopefully you’ll skim over this sentence and continue reading, because the album is FREE.
Storm Over Sea is Ironwood’s second full-length and contains incredibly fine musicianship in a vast variety of ways. Not only is the instrumentation diverse, but the songwriting spans so many genres that it makes no sense to try and classify this album at all. Therein lies the album’s strongest points and its downfall. Ironwood attempts to pack so many different sounds into one album that it’s borderline schizophrenic. Storm Over Sea’s primary weakness is that it covers waaaaayyyyyy too much ground for one sitting. Ironwood’s identity crisis may actually be the answer to the baffling question of why such talented musicians have yet to be picked up by any label.
Storm Over Sea is about an hour in length, and the initial twenty or so minutes are actually quite promising. It begins with a brief, instrumental track that screams “blackened folk metal” as loud as the album’s cover… rain samples and all. “Infinite Sea” explodes into a frantic monsoon of all the wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth heathenry fans of the genre could hope for. Clean vocals are present almost immediately, but they are tastefully excecuted (for now). Also within the opening few minutes of the track are a skillfull guitar solo, reminiscent of a young Muhammed Suiçmez, and a bridge that contains some of the best acoustic guitar work I’ve heard in a long time. Henry Lauer, who also performs bass, must really love abusing the shit out of his acoustic with all the tremolo work featured here. Towards the end of the eleven-minute track, a different brand of clean vocals arrives, still bearable, but they might make you want to put on some lederhosen and shake your arms back and forth like a lumberjack who’s marching home to devour a well-deserved supper.
“Weather the Storm” takes things in a different direction alltogether, forgetting the blackened folk theme and becoming nearly straightforward death metal, sans the growling vocals. Following the song’s unlikely brute beginning come some post-rock, atmospheric guitar segments. This is where the line should probably be drawn if you’d like to refrain from getting a headache, because the clean vocals will soon begin to sound more and more like they belong on a cassette tape…in the Christian record store…in the discount aisle. Do not attempt to contemplate how three individuals, who possess all the talent and skill necessary to release a potentially enormous metal record that could have landed them a deal with a number of record labels dared to put a song like “Share the Burden” in the middle of their record… because your head might fucking explode. If you’re more of an optimist and don’t want to let a brief interlude ruin your experience, there are plenty of other fuckups in the latter half of the album to keep you from getting through the entire thing. The lead solo in “A Bond To Sever,” for example, is a bad Between the Buried and Me ripoff, and the final track’s attempt to mimic The Mantle is just downright blasphemous.
Lucky for you, I’ve basically dissected the album so that you can listen to all the good parts and hopefully never allow the Creedier parts of Storm Over Sea to enter into your subconsciousness. At the very least, you’ve been warned. All negativity aside, Ironwood is comprised of four damn fine musicians who were generous enough to offer up a free version of their album via their website. Also, I need not mention the enormous potential that Ironwood has, because the music will speak completely for itself. All of the pieces are there for Ironwood to become something special, they simply need to be put into the proper order.