Reviewed: January 2005
Released: 2002, Soulreaper Records
Iron Clad is a group of a fair amount of mystery. Popular metal lore tells that Gunther (also of Ancient Rites) formed Iron Clad in the 80\’s with schoolmate Rony many many years back. And it was not long after that the band dissolved, only to be reformed in 1999, taking many of the songs that the original lineup from so many years past and re-writing them. The songs took shape as this release, LOST IN A DREAM.
Iron Clad describe themselves as \”80\’s Heavy Metal with Medieval Influences\”, and that is a fitting description, but ultimately somewhat misleading. The precise sound of Iron Clad is hard to pin down, falling somewhere between old-school epic doom and Priest-style traditional metal, all of course with the ever present medieval influences. The medieval influences drip off this band like so much mead dripping from the chin of a Flemish warrior as he celebrates after a hard fought victory. The album opens up with the pre-requisite instrumental piece \”The Conquerer\” which brings to mind the most epic moments of the score to Conan The Barbarian, complete with swords clinging in the background. Not long after this fades out the metal kicks into high gear with \”Last Crusade\”, a mid-paced rocker with a great guitar/keyboard duo intro before it rides into battle at full gallup. For a band with such heavy medieval influences the lyrical topics of battles and war are no suprise, but very well done. Especially when combined with the unique vocal delivery of Gunther which alternates between a deep speak/growl and a low tenor howl that just makes you want to swing your flaget of ale in rhythm with his war cries.
The songwriting is well above par, perfectly combining the epic doom style of Into Glory Ride-era Manowar with the traditional folk melodies of their native Belgium. Although it may seem a bit silly in songs like \”Ruins (Memories Of The Past)\” when the music cuts out and what sounds like a concertina plays a somewhat oompah melody while the singer speaks of walking in mighty ruins and remembering past warriors slain, it\’s essential to the overall mood of the music. \”Ruins (Memories Of The Past)\” so effectively handles its subject matter both lyrically and musically that the music just sounds like the ancient crumbling walls of a dead castle. Other favorite songs include \”Travel Through The Night\” with it\’s riding-through-the-forest-mounted-on-my-trusted-steed gallup and \”Flemish Victory\” which tells the tale of a Flemish battle so passionatly you can taste the blood on their swords. The album as a whole runs a little long though, and one feels that they could have done without the instrumentals which, while well composed, kind of make the album drag a little long. But for all those who love traditional metal, old style epic doom, or folk-influenced metal should keep their eye out for LOST IN A DREAM. Because it sounds just like that, being lost in the dreams of a horde of warriors who have lost their way.
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