IRONSWORD_None_But_the_BraveIt’s hard to remain trve in such false times. Wear a broadsword into the local supermarket and you’ll get many a suspicious glance. Build an enormous stone monument to Ye Old Gods on your front lawn and you’ll invariably run into trouble with the town Zoning Board. Sacking weaker neighbors and carrying off their daughters? Forget all about it. Such are the cursed times we live in. But when the going gets tough, the trve get going, and that’s why Ironsword is so damn important. These mysterious Portuguese overlords of trveness release albums only when the planets align and the dragon moon is in peak ascension, but when they do, you best brace yourself. None But the Brave is their first since 2008 but no amount of time changes the stone and steel behemoth that is Ironsword. This is exactly the same fusion of Manilla Road, Iron MaidenBrocas Helm and Cirith Ungol they’re known for and it is…glorious. It’s also righteous, virtuous, meritorious and sacrilicious. Many won’t appreciate its iron fisted might, but that’s because their hammers aren’t big enough. If you’re among those weak fools, you must stop reading, attach the Cone of Shame and know the shame of cones.

If you’ve been afflicted by Low T since Manowar forsook the faithful and forgot the Riddle of Steel, opener “Forging the Sword” will set the world right again. Sounding like a steroidal mix of Branded and Exiled era Running Wild and Manilla Road, it’s sheer awesomeness cannot be denied. It’s so old school, it’s properly called old gymnasium, and its cheese is of the finest variety. J.M.’s odd vocals are as loveable as always and he can sound like Nocturno Culto (Darkthrone) one minute, and Mark Shelton (Manilla Road) or Lemmy the next. This is the kind of song that makes you remember why you fell in love with metal in the first place, and what could be better than that?

The rest of None But the Brave over delivers on the ass kickery. “Kings of the Night” sounds like Thor meeting Cirith Ungol for a trial by combat and the winner is you. “Calm Before the Storm” has a huge Maiden influence, solos that recall the Ross the Boss era of Manowar and the nasally, Shelton-esque  delivery of the chorus is the steely icing on top. The title track is more manly than Manowar and will send you looking for the nearest hill to proclaim yourself the King of same. “Vengeance Will Be Mine” is a two-minute song you’ll wish was twelve, and the chorus of ‘By the hammer, by the sword, vengeance will be mine” is rabble rousing enough to cause serious problems between you and the modern legal system. “Eye For an Eye” stands out because it sounds like an onstage duet between Timmy Baker (Cirith Ungol) and Mark Shelton, and that my droogs, is as metal as metal can get without causing a nuclear singularity in Valhalla.


There’s not much diversity here and every song thuds and gallops along in angry horde mode, but it matters not since they’re all such cornball fun. The closest they come to a curve ball is closer “The Shadow Kingdom” with its more deliberate pacing and higher pitched vocals, but it’s only a slight reprieve in what is a 47 minute headlong battle charge.

As with all Ironsword albums, they pummel with thick, galloping riffs and Steve Harris-esque bass noodling. J.M. is a master at old gymnasium riffery and every song feels like it was lifted from 1982 and frozen for posterity. The playing may be simple in structure, but it pays huge dividends in energy and nostalgia. His solo work is surprisingly tasteful and emotional and though it too is stuck in metal’s earliest days, its lost none of its ability to resonate with the modern music fan. Vocally, J.M. is one-of-a-kind. His weird, gravelly shout always worked far better than it should, and his warbly singing suits the music to its Viking core. There’s no doubt he patterned it on Mark Shelton’s time-honored quirkiness, but it works, so who cares if he’s imitating a legend. Jorge Martins’ bass thumpery is also quite impressive and his urgent rumbling underpins the Ironsword sound as surely as Steve Harris lays the foundation for Maiden.

Ironsword has never released a bad album, but this may well be their most enjoyable from start to finish. If Conan the Barbarian had an iPod, he’d listen to this before battles. If Kull the Conqueror had a Walkman, he’d listen to the cassette version. If you are the master of your fate and captain of your soul, this should be on your play scroll. Stop screwing around and join the Legion of the Trve, we happy Trve.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
Release Dates: Out Worldwide 05.19.2015

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  • Feytalist

    Steel Druhm you glorious bastard, this review was simply amazing from start to finish.

  • “By the power of GREYSKULL!” … uuuh got a little carried away there *skulks away sheepishly*.

  • Everyone that says that only the negative reviews here are entertaining, shall be now directed to this post.

    • BaboonKing

      I’m not sure if this is a response to the posts in the Coal Chamber review, but if it is, I don’t think anyone used the word *only*. I for one enjoy all reviews by these fine fellows, be they full of praise or scorn. Hell, I couldn’t care less about black or death metal, and yet AMG, Steel Druhm and the rest of the gang have me reading (and loving) their reviews of works in those genres all the same. That’s a testament to their writing skill and contagious enthusiasm.

      • No, it’s not a response to your post. I was only making a half joke, half praise to Druhm’s review. Here, let me fix it.

        • BaboonKing

          Ah, nothing to fix then, and pray forgive my egotism; I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t misunderstood.

          • I’m guilty of sardonic subtexting in the past, so I have nothing to forgive, and instead offer my apologies for any confusion. Now, who said there were no gentlemen amongst us metalheads?

  • Kalsten

    This is a solid trve “death to the false metal” material. However, it lacks someone in the vocals like Eric Adams, which would make it epic-er.

  • Prostidude

    This music begs to be played live. I would love to see them this summer at a small muddy backyard festival while holding a plastic cup of beer in one hand and the titty of a drunk gilf in the other.

    • What’s a gilf? Is that like a llama?

      • Prostidude

        A gilf and a llama don’t really look alike, but I reckon they are very similar soundwise during sex.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Llamas are cool, but you haven’t partied until you’ve partied with alpacas.

  • Kmill

    Brilliant writing. Trying not to laugh while reading this at work. You should be a creative writing professor.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Yes, writing succinct, witty pieces like this is harder than it looks. The gift is in synthesizing your ideas and cutting out the fat (and sometimes it hurts to cut it!). Another gem, and pardon the mixed metaphors.

  • Excentric_1307

    Let’s see, barbarian on the cover with raised sword? I knew it was a Steel Druhm review!

    • You can’t spell “Steel” without Steel Druhm.

      • Stefano Kevin Prince Vitali

        are you really quoting Jon Lajoie?

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I think bands are starting to put cover art like this on their albums in hopes that Lord Druhm will review it.

      Epic metal without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze.

      • I didn’t say it was cheeseless, just that it was good cheese!

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Agreed, good, sharp stuff. All cheese is good!

          • AnnieK13

            I like cheese.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Hot on the trail of Visigoth, Ironsword raises its epic head! When this one comes out, it’ll be party-time at the Goatom castle. Ima brew a nice pot of Ginger-Peach herbal tea and pull out the needle-point!!

    • If you lived on the coast I’d sack your town and make you pay for that herbal blasphemy.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Do your worse! You’ll only get my Hello Kitty tea service when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    The whole thing was great, but that last paragraph was beautiful. I raise a glass of overpriced Canadian mead to you, Lord Steel.

  • Jean-Luc Ricard

    When a review mentions Cirith Ungol three times, you know the record must be awesome.

    • I would have mentioned them again, but the fourth time causes them to appear in your home and hit you with a war hammer.

      • Óðhinn

        Are you sure? I think it’s actually the third time…DUCK! ;)

    • I see 3 Cirith Vngols, 3 Manilla Roads, 3 Manovvars and 3 Maidens. My calculus is worst than my conversational English but I think that makes the total 666.

  • Óðhinn

    Decent old school metal riffs, even if a bit simple and repetitive. However, they lost me as soon as the vocals began. There’s not enough to hold my attention here. I’ll pass on this particular album. Steel Druhm does a good review though. Just not my cup of tea.

  • Great review, lots of fun to read. Going to pick this up next weekend!

  • strychnin

    Not bad, but heard something like this thousand times before.

  • Siege Bantayan

    My testosterone levels were instantly raised when I saw that album cover.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Great stuff Druhm! Another contender for review of the year!
    Personally I really appreciate the vocals here…Listening to forging the sword, It sounds like Chris Black and Lemmy have got together and made the follow up to Orgasmatron… Will definitely pick this up.

  • OzanCan

    Holy shit! I busted my left nut listening to the embedded promo song!