IroncladFor some reason the name Ironclad makes me think of some sort of dodgy Italian post-apocalypse or medieval battle type movie (anyone remember Hearts And Armour?). It’s a name forged in steel from a time where gangs of people roamed the wasteland causing much grief and bloodshed to those trying to survive against insurmountable odds. It also puts visions of loincloths and steel and kind of could have you thinking along the lines of bands such as Manowar. Thankfully the gods have been merciful and this Welsh clan are nothing of the like musically. Comprising of members with ties past and present to Siluria, Tor Marrock, Annwn and Black Tamanous these barbarians definitely show considerable might on the four tracks on this debut EP. Musically it has been described by some as melodic sludge metal and it does contain elements of that but then again there is a fair bit more going on here.

Opening track ‘Lost In The Abyss’ doesn’t hang about in the slightest and barrels in on you throwing out a hefty brutalism from the off. The most noticeable thing at first and constant throughout are Dean Fletcher’s hoary vocals which are really quite distinct. I think the best way of summing them up is ‘forceful’ as they gruffly tear it up with some throat shredding ballast about them. Muscular drums batter around and there are plenty of harmonic and flailing guitar leads spiralling away around it all. Some of them remind a little bit of Hawkwind and their most dextrous and also they remind a little of the Gothicism furrowed out by the aforementioned Tor Marrock. It’s an attention grabbing opening statement and a solid one with it. From here they go on to show their roots a bit more with a cover of ‘Creator Of The Outcasts’ by Cerebral Fix. Good thick jagged guitars and hefty bass cut in and the vocals add to the brutal head banging motion of it all volleying out the speakers designed to take your head off. Suddenly slowing down things shimmer with grace and melodicism and a real classic feel soaks into the song. The two styles combine and the cleaner vocals still retain a real gruff feel about them, I don’t think this is a vocalist who will ever quite hit the high notes and croon away and the style of it all retains a ruggedness that suits the music well but could take a bit of getting used to.

Bouncy melody and crashing snares see ‘The Disease’ spreading infection and the long flowing leads dextrously flurry away with the vocals biting in. The title track concludes things with some drum rolls dynamically cracking and crunching away before we get the closest we have come to melodic singing and for me it doesn’t quite work. Still its early days for that side of things to improve upon as the group have only been around since august 2015. This takes me back to think about some great UK bands such as The Enchanted and Bloodstream when they were just starting out, sadly neither of which are still going. It packs a suitable punch and shows a young band giving it their all and hungry to get their message out there. These tracks prove a formidable base to build upon and hopefully they will do just that.

(6.5/10 Pete Woods)