RSS Feed

Swedish Iron

Iron Shield (2013)
Rating: 3/10

While I truly understand what Sweden’s Tungsten Axe are trying to do with their fist-pounding brand of retro metal, the debut opus from this armour-plated quartet is, to put it short and sweet, a “How Not To Do Heavy Metal” guide.

When I first gave this new opus a handful of spins I was rather alarmed by its low-budget, basement feel – reminded at once of such heavy metal comedy horrors as the UK’s Bad News. Not only is there a strong demo feel about this clatter, the vocals of Dick Mattson are particularly woeful and better suited to an empty biker’s pub on a Sunday afternoon. Couple these awful warbles with the bland guitar and atrocious drum sound and we could have a contender for heavy metal turkey of the year, and yep, it really is that bad.

I’ve not heard such abysmal dungeons and dragons metal since Thor back in the mid 80s, such is the cheesy nature of this nine-track affair which runs for 47 minutes too long if you ask me. Swedish Iron boasts too many overlong songs, too many plasticine-pretending-to-be-steel drum beats, and too many dull as dishwater guitar solos and stuffy riffs.

Now believe me, I’ve heard some absolutely horrendous metal albums over the years, and there were thousands of bands back in the foggy 80s trying out this sort of leathery, muddy metal mayhem, but at the time a majority of those sort of bands were genuinely skint. However, I’m unsure what the excuse is here?

I’m guessing I’m going to have to be cruel to be kind with this one, but it really is a wet lettuce of a record that begins with a dawdling instrumental entitled ‘Prelude’, then melts into the embarrassing ‘Star Of Mount Paekdu’, the cringeworthy ‘Heavy Metal’, and above all the tiresome drone of the title track.

Tungsten Axe are clearly intent on their muscle flexing and chest pounding, but none of this comes across to effect on the record. As a kid I remember being so blown away by J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, but after reading these hefty volumes I, naturally, sought similar tomes – some were good, some average, but some were atrocious, and that’s where Tungsten Axe fit in. The band may argue that this platter is raw, primitive and stripped, but I argue back that it’s droll, amateurish and weak, resulting in such abominations as ‘Devil’s Children’ and the draining closer ‘Times’.

Sorry, but I struggle to put into words how lame this album sounds – the production team must’ve left before recording started, and the musicianship is so painfully laborious that at times I’m wondering if all this is a big joke on the listener. The room for improvement is vast, but let’s hope that Tungsten Axe is intelligent enough to find it, because if they don’t then they are going to find themselves on that scrapheap which, sadly, over the years has claimed far greater talents. While distinctly European in its flavour, Tungsten Axe’s debut album is proof that not just any ol’ iron will do.

Neil Arnold

<< Back to Album & EP Reviews

Related Posts via Categories