Iron Thrones were recently propelled into my peripheral vision via Metal Insider and Scion’s No Label Needed contest. The prize up for grabs was a month’s tutoring, advice, recording, and other bits and pieces; basically everything any band needs to increase their chances of becoming successful artists (provided they don’t suck, of course), without the interference of a record label. Iron Thrones, as you may have guessed, were the lucky winners.

As usual, our brothers over at The Number of the Blog are way ahead of us one this one, and have been all over these dudes for a while now (Spna15 interviewed guitarist Steve Henningsgard for the site last month), but deservingly so the rest of the metal community seems to be catching up.

A bit of research tells me that Visions of Light, released in 2008 and then re-released in 2009 by Tribunal Records, was one of those DIY, intense-labour-of-love jobbies: blood, sweat, tears – and probably a quantity of the less salubrious bodily fluids as well. But piss up a wall, does it ever show.

The first thing that stands out is their ability to build a song – and I don’t just mean how to construct it. Opening track Swell to the Surface does just that; serving as a three and a half minute intro, surging not once but twice before breaking into The Dark Design, which launches full throttle with vocalist Adam Clemans’ throaty growls. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album.

It’s pretty clear (and indeed confirmed by the man himself) that Henningsgard listens to a lot of Opeth – albeit choosing to up the pace a notch or two – with more than a hint of those lush compositions, and even an acoustic interlude or two. Most notable is of these is Wading, a perfectly formed lull in the ferocious proceedings that serves as a breath of air before the monumental assault of the final two tracks.

But for me the similarities to Between the Buried and Me are more easily drawn. Illumination is a superb display of what I mean: a beautiful piano intro (again, built expertly) which bursts suddenly into full attack mode. Most interestingly, the song soon flows into a prolonged section that would feel right at home on The Great Misdirect – all proggy bass lines and long guttural roars. I’m not even exaggerating. Clemans is on top form in these passages, and fuck me if he isn’t a perfect vocal doppelgänger for Tommy Rogers.

Everything feels immaculate. No-one tries to show off, but equally no-one lets the side down. The songs grow fluidly and you find yourself noticing new things with every listen. Throw into this a few excellent bluesy leads and you have yourselves a phenomenal package. The talent on show is undeniable, and it’s been produced with such love that you can’t help but feel endeared to the guys themselves.

The digital ‘liner notes’ you receive with the download also proclaim this:

“This album is yours. You can rip it, burn it, share it, and enjoy it however you’d like. We encourage everyone to download the album on their own, so we can keep you updated with official content and news from the band. Everything that has come along with this download was 100% created by the band, from conception to completion, and we are excited that we can finally share it with you!”

And so I urge you: buy it if you can; if not, get it anyway. Don’t let this album pass you by whatever you do: it’s in-fucking-credible.

  1. Swell to the Surface
  2. The Dark Design
  3. Heart of the Light
  4. Still Waters
  5. The Final Farewell
  6. Illumination
  7. Wading
  8. Cover of Smoke
  9. Shadows Revealed

Iron Thrones – Visions of Light gets:

5/5 – Phenomenal

As an added bonus, you can listen to the entire album right here: just hit dat play button below.

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