The mixture between black metal and ambient genres has grown in popularity over the last few years. We have a lot of bands that follow this theme of extremely ambient, shrill guitars over endless blastbeats. With so many bands exploring this medium, it can be a bit tiresome to search for new music. But worry not, for I will introduce you today to Ironwood. Ironwood is a band that blends together folk, black and post-metal and creates a pleasant yet dark atmosphere in a dynamic setting. Well and Tree is the fourth album from the band and it is clear how the band, over time, has refined their style and playing.
The album starts off with “Song of Mimir”, setting the bar fairly high for the rest of the album. It starts with the sound of water flowing and soon a cleanly played acoustic guitar sets in. The progression of the guitar is typical for folk but has a little bit of a darker touch to it. The vocals seem almost hypnotic. As the bass and drums kick in, the song gains momentum but, to my surprise, the song soon blows into a huge music piece with soaring guitars and precise drums. Going from zero to one hundred, this portion of the song is sure to grab your attention. The guitar is very euphoric and jumps all over the place. This is in turn countered by the quick change to a brief, ambient guitar solo. Following that, only the drums and the bass play and give off a trance-inducing vibe. When the guitar enters in again, a more positive vibe is brought into the mix. Of course, this tone doesn’t hold on for long, as the solo of the song is chaotic and thrashing. But, like the other elements in Ironwood’s songs, this quickly ebbs out to an ambient, almost psychedelic, lead melody. With one last fast-paced chord progression, the song comes to an end.
While Well and Tree constantly changes between the three states of ambient, chaotic and euphoric, the band still manages to give the listener a few surprises and create interesting songs. The intricate songwriting, combined with the extreme nature of the distorted parts, makes for a wild experience.
A lot of other songs on the album have a similar structure to “Song of Mimir”, but there are still one or two songs that are different. “Flowing Through” is a great example. One of the most distorted tracks on the album, this song brings out the frenetic aspects of the album. It’s a nice track to cut loose to.
I enjoyed Well and Tree quite a lot. The record feels very natural and solid. There is some repetition on the record and there are minor flaws in the production. I also didn’t enjoy the vocals, but I think that this is always a highly subjective matter. Aside from that, Ironwood has created a uniquely sounding solid record that I surely will come back to in the future. I look forward to hearing more from the band.
Score: 8.5 /10
FFO: Irminsul, Oakenshield
Notable Tracks: “Song of Mimir”, “Flowing Through”