Review Summary: Although they have a bit of a way to go before being up there with the veterans of prog metal, Iron Thrones don't half know how to make an entrance.
Here's something I noticed the other day. My top three CD's of '08 were débuts by bands I'd never even heard of before. I'm not going to go into detail and name them, because that would be far too trivial, but it does show one thing, if only for me; 2008 was the year of the débuts, as ridiculous as that sounds. So, in order to strengthen my view and impose it upon all you lesser mortals, I put forward Iron Thrones and their début release, Visions Of Light!
Iron Thrones play prog metal Opeth style, with lots of amazing riffs and atmospheric soft acoustic breaks, and a vocalist that roars and screams his way through every track like a better Tommy Rogers (Between The Buried and Me). Although young, their style is very mature and convincing in it's delivery, the production is slick and powerful, while songs flow and develop naturally. The appeal of this young band lies not in their originality, but simply in the way that the songwriting is absolutely phenomenal on this release. Even the instrumentals on the album are stunning, in fact, they're one of my favourite parts about the album. While not being the most varied release, it doesn't get repetitive, and each track stands on it's own with it's own highlights and moments of brilliance. 'Still Waters' has a climax that is simply phenomenal, 'The Final Farewell' is succesful thanks to it's amazing acoustics and classical solo arrangements, while a track like 'Cover of Smoke' is simply beastly, coming in at no less than twelve minutes.
For an unsigned band releasing their début, the production on Visions Of Light is stellar. The guitars are definitely at the front of the music, but not enough to get overbearing, they let the rest of the instruments breathe. Thankfully, the guitarists manage to justify being the band's centre point, blasting out riffs as if they have been doing this for years. They can be technical, melodic, aggressive or soothing, and they pull it all off well. But yet despite this, Visions Of Light is still easy to listen to. It's a focused effort that doesn't jump around haphazardly, you can listen to this in the background for it's beautiful atmosphere, or focus in on it and notice all the amazing subtleties (just listen to the last three minutes of 'Cover Of Smoke', it's up there with my favourite musical moments of the year), even when the guitarists blast away with a blistering solo, it is always done tastefully and never sounds forced. Even at a tender age, the music that Iron Thrones play puts many an established act to shame.
All in all, Visions Of Light will appeal to many people, it's a solid, focused effort from one of the brighter young acts in the metal scene. Although long, and a bit overbearing at first, Visions Of Light reveals itself to be one of the most well constructed prog metal albums of the year, up there with the best of them. Although they have a bit of a way to go before being up there with the veterans of prog metal, Iron Thrones don't half know how to make an entrance.