IRONWRATH: Master Storyteller

IronWrath – Master Storyteller

(Mystic Water Records)

Christian metal fans who have a long history with the genre will be familiar with the name IronWrath.  They first appeared on the Underground Metal 2 compilation with the track “The Stranger” which featured a traditional heavy metal sound with some speed metal tendencies.  On a sidenote, some fans may also know that IronWrath featured 4/5 members of Holy Right.  Both bands were spawned out of Riverside CA in the 1980s.

But enough of the history lesson.  Is the same IronWrath that we heard back in ’89?  Well yes, and also emphatically no.  While 3 original members are still involved on Master Storyteller, the sounds are completely different.  This time we have a very modern take on heavy metal—lots of alternative, grunge, and nu metal influences, and also some very electronic/industrialtouches are generously sprinkled throughout the album.  While this is the same IronWrath that debuted in the late 80s, at the same time this is not the same IronWrath.

“One” begins with an electronic beat that is followed up with some heavy guitars.  They’ve definitely been listening to some Rob and/or White Zombie since we last heard them in the 80s.  The chorus of “we have one life, one dream, one chance to rise above” serve as both a pick-me-up and a challenge all at the same time.

“Master Storyteller” ups the ante on the heaviness for sure.  There’s still an electronic beat with lots of samples, but this one is more metallic than the last overall.  They remind me a little of Leaderdogs for the Blind (who remembers that 90s band?) where it’s essentially metal, but there is an industrial influence. The track features a great guitar solo.  “Legends Never Die” is a sort of melodramatic arena rock song that takes itself a little too seriously for my liking.  It’s performed well, but it’s not one I’ll return to frequently.

“Tyranny” brings back the heavy guitars and electronic beats, but then settles into a slow almost ballad-like tempo on the verses.  The lyrics seem to address politics to some degree but it’s not clear what they’re referring to:

So hold on, as we suit up for war,

Life is a battle from the day we were born.

They want oppression when freedom’s our right

No disagreeing, or they’ll take your life!

Because the “they” is ambiguous, it’s hard to know exactly what the tyranny is that they’re describing. This makes the militaristic language a little concerning to this reviewer.

“Thy Shall Return” is a mid-tempo metal song with lots of flashy guitar playing.  In fact, guitarists and fans of heavy metal guitar solos should really enjoy this album, as the playing is really good. 

Next up is a cover of the Johnny Cash classic “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.”  While no one can beat the man in black, their version is a decent re-working of the song that both re-envisions the track and stays true to the original—the real test of a cover tune.  “Freedom” goes back into full industrial-metal mode with some crunchy rhythms and vocal harmonies on the chorus.  “I’m Alive” is one of the heavier tracks so far, but it still has a melodic chorus almost reminiscent of some nu metal stuff and an *almost* rap-metal vocal delivery in places.

In contrast to “Tyranny” above, “Bed of Lies” is a much more effective protest song, as the enemy of consumeristic materialism driven by big tech is clearly the target this time around:

We reap what you sow… As we fight for our lives.

Yeah, neglect what you owe… Now we’re paying the price.      
Have a cigar while you destroy our lives…
Laying in a bed of lies (2x)

Deep in the darkness, deception will rise.
Infiltrating our youth and causing to demise!
The media sells it, big tech controls speech.
The narrative states, “You must do as we preach!”                                                     

The world has lost its way…
Turn your back for a buck and sell our freedom away!

Corporate responsibility for destructive actions?  That’s a protest I can get behind.

“The Best Part of Me” is a ballad with synth-strings and a heartfelt tale about the loss of a friend to death.  Yet there is an expressed hope of seeing them again in eternity:

As the song remains the same,
You’re still the best of me… You believed in me.
Your voice lives beyond the grave,
Beyond the tragedy… You are still… the best part…

As I close my eyes at night… I see you, my friend.
I’ll cherish all my days… till we meet again!

“Masquerade” is another heavy rocker that juxtaposes Christian martyrs who have suffered for their faith, with the way contemporary Christianity is often made up of people wearing masks, pretending to be authentic, but without any substance behind it.  

“Imagine a World” starts with a dark and brooding industrial beat.  It’s slow, dark, and heavy—almost ironic considering it’s a sort of worship song where the writer tries to imagine a world without God and the wholeness and peace He brings.  The song also features a prominent and well-executed guitar solo, like we’ve heard elsewhere on the album so far.  Closing out the album is “Death March,” which opens with an eery synthesizer and some clean guitar.  Is this going to be a ballad or are they just setting us up?  The truth is somewhere in the middle as the track is a slow dirge re-telling the horrors of the Nazi regime.

The Death March began…
Ushered like sheep, we were led to die
They saluted their plan…
A systematic genocide

It’s a powerful and somber album closer, perhaps intended to encourage the listener to think about how something so horrific could happen again if we don’t resist racism, fascism, and extreme populism even now in the name of “law.”

Overall this is a solid album, though very different from what I expected from the band bearing the name IronWrath.  In place of 80s heavy metal with speed metal tendencies we have some modern metal with industrial tendencies.  While they aren’t necessarily forging a new musical path here (industrial metal had its heyday in the 90s – 00s), they have certainly offered something different that most fans will have expected.  The playing and production and top-notch, and this is definitely recommended if you like industrial-type beats mixed with modern metal sounds and traditional metal solos.

My rating: 3.0

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1 thought on “IRONWRATH: Master Storyteller

  1. Hi! This is Sean the guitarist of IronWrath. Thank you for your honest review. We as a band cover a lot of ground and we are very honored and blessed with how the album is being received. In 2024 when you see us visually with our music, it’s going to take you on a journey.

    Thank you again and God Bless!!


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