The recent years’ resurgence of hard rock/metal outfit IronWrath has been nothing but short of amazing, since their formation in 1988 and a release of a demo the following year in 1989.
After a couple of stop-and-starts in the mid ’90s and in the late 2000s, this band from Fontana in Southern California has made the ultimate comeback after many years of patience and waiting to hit the heavy music scene, with the release of their debut full-length album Master Storyteller earlier this year.
The group consists of Anton Petrenko (vocals), Johnny Blackout (bass), Steve Bell (rhythm guitars), Sean Silas (lead guitar) and mastermind C.G. Ryche (drums/percussion). They have been hard at work developing their craft, and you might catch a range of diverse influences such as Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Linkin Park, and Killswitch Engage, with touches of Tool, Rob Zombie, and Nine Inch Nails.
- Master Storyteller
- Legends Never Die
- Thy Shall Return
- God’s Gonna Cut You Down
- I’m Alive
- Bed Of Lies
- The Best Part Of Me
- Imagine The World
- Death March
Master Storyteller kicks off with the song “One”, which immediately is dark and brooding, with a nice blend of hard rock and industrial metal. If you have heard their previously released single “Freedom”, which a updated version of can be found on this record, you will definitely recognize C.G.’s drumming prowess and that iconic bass sound. This intro track is very melodic throughout with Sean cranking out a stellar solo, which isn’t really heard much these days with newer bands.
Next up is title track “Master Storyteller” which started the whole excitement of this new record, and continues the journey with a mix of extreme and harsh sounding vocals, then slows slightly through the midst of the song and you also have some Def Leppard influence in the backing vocal accents of ‘hey’, as they still maintain a melodic approach.
“Legends Never Die” kicks in with low key keyboards before a hammering with thunderous bass and drum beats, that could somewhat be described as a patriotic declaration towards the listener, that Anton portrays extremely well. This is the first of a few lower tempo tracks found on this album.
Next up is “Tyranny” which continues the little quirks these guys have with the plucking of the bass strings, and is again another slower and low key song. Sean’s lead guitar playing really shines through, and the track is complemented with another masterpiece of a solo.
“Thy Shall Return” is completely in your face lyrically about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and the track has all the elements of a ballad, while still keeping the hardened edge that has been consistently managed so far throughout this record.
“God’s Gonna Cut You Down” like the previous track has ballad written all over it, with a southern rock feel. Another crushing solo compliments this Johnny Cash cover tune and its unique narrative on the eventual delivery of justice.
As mentioned before, the band’s previously released (and thoroughly reworked) single “Freedom” hits next, with drummer C.G.’s trademark beats, and this version is definitely different, especially with Anton’s low and harsh vocal style. (I was so used to listening to the original incarnation of the track that I still feel very mixed, however it blends in well with exactly what IronWrath are trying to achieve throughout this 13 song album.)
“I’m Alive” comes up with elements of grunge, more towards an Alice In Chains direction, despite still finding a stance of uniqueness with what is transpiring musically. This song is certainly more faster paced than the last few others before it, and just its sheer creative aspect makes it one of the strongest tracks on this volume.
“Bed Of Lies” continues on down this rabbit hole with a nice blend of chugging guitars, slow paced aggressiveness, melodically pleasureable, and featuring a noticeable riff that reminds me of older Metallica, with strong blues undertones.
“The Best Part Of Me” is the group’s sole acoustic offering on the album, and was certainly a wonderland experience, that wasn’t expected at all, however with influences dating back to the late ’70s and ’80s, and beyond, you kind of get it.
“Masquerade” still continues with a slow paced delivery but gains back that hardened edge that has continued to shine throughout, and the dual guitar sound is also a welcome inclusion for sure. Steve and Sean can be recognized as having played together for a good portion of their musical lives.
As we head into the final stages of this release, the song “Imagine A World” is again a turn towards a different spectrum that I wasn’t expecting, slow and rhythmic and bombastic in sound, bass driven, with crunching guitar tones.
Finally, “Death March” closes out this thirteen track album, finishing it up with another slow paced song, and you can definitely tell C.G. Ryche has his trademark percussion chops displayed here, with a great mix of rhythm and unexpected changes to close out a mysterious and yet very creative album.
In conclusion, Master StoryTeller has lived up well to the band’s claims of going down the rabbit hole, which is taken from the Alice In Wonderland movie. It is most certainly different and unique, personally I thought it was a great job from the boys in IronWrath, but was a bit too slow paced throughout for me, a bit repetitive also. However, still an excellent album and I definitely understand the elements and direction of what these guys were aiming for and I believe they certainly hit the mark of what they strived to achieve.
Christian Sullivan 8/10 – The Metal Onslaught Magazine