The Ironfist – Tyrant’s Return (Sliptrick Records)Monday, 29th May 2023
Incorporating a NWOBHM style into blackened thrash angles, Singapore act The Ironfist unleash Tyrant’s Return – the fourth studio album and third in the last three years. When given the opportunity to buckle down in songwriting/ recording mode, there’s nothing that will stop Rip Alhuzzred on the vocal or instrumental front. Listeners can expect a style and sonic outlook that balances out speedy, raw riffs plus savage screams with the occasional clean melodic passage or straightforward, traditional-oriented musical part that reveals a love of the early 80’s sound that motivated many to stay the course in passionate allegiance to the cause.
Slower twin guitar harmonies sprout in different places, while the alternative clean chorus against the heavier riffs makes “Broken Shards of Time” an early standout, especially through the haunting background vocal placement during the concluding movements. Amping up the thrash charge “Iron Conquered Victory” lives up to its namesake, a rallying cry for the battle tested warriors of the world, loads of double kick/snare beyond the wild lead presence keeping this song energetic and dynamic. The blackened, rhythmic screams match the chaotic nature of “Shadow Over Majapahit” – the clean exotic melodies giving off a Mongolian nuance that further separates The Ironfist from most conventional blackened thrash/heavy metal bands. The acoustic-oriented “Tyrant’s Livestock” is a short, narrative-oriented sixty-nine second effort that sets the stage for a rather subdued closer, the Bathory-cover “Song to Hall Up High”, an ethereal effort where the Pink Floyd-esque vocals plus subdued keyboards could lull the listener to a somber resting place. With thirteen tracks over forty-five minutes, listeners won’t be suffering from information fatigue – and the production values possess the adequate clearness without being too pristine necessary to appease old school maniacs.
Depicting tales of vengeance, Scandinavian Vikings, muay thai fighters, and Genghis Khan among others, Tyrant’s Return is an interesting blackened heavy metal record from The Ironfist that contains as much catchy songs as it does the relentless speedy/thrash efforts that shift accordingly. A genre always for the purists who love musicians that speak to the primal force within us all – we shall see where future outings go.