(Several of us here glommed on to Ironmaster’s recently released second album (via Black Lion Records), but thought it would really hit the bullseye with DGR. We weren’t wrong, as his following review demonstrates abundantly.)
Rarely does a disc go flying by you with such velocity that it could’ve killed someone (ala Hellraiser 3) and found itself embedded in the drywall near your writing desk, but such is the case with Ironmaster‘s sophomore album – and second on a year-over-year churn – Weapons Of Spiritual Carnage.
While we fancy ourselves having an understanding of each other’s musical tastes here, it’s not often that one would gamble fully on handing an album album over with the statement, “This seems like it is well positioned within your wheelhouse”. But that happened with Weapons Of Spiritual Carnage, a release whose promo arrived and was so quickly flung in your favorite long-winded impostor-syndrome-suffering writer’s direction that yes, we’re probably due a trip to the local home improvement store here soon in order to repair ‘promo disc stuck in wall’. It’s not like whatever customer service person we get is going to understand what we’re talking about anyway.
We’ve spent some time with Ironmaster before; but for those who don’t slavishy read every semi-cogent sentence that we manage to pen, here’s a quick descriptor: Ironmaster are modern death metal, sleek production and riff-apocalypse writing style, composed of a trio of familiar names. And if the names aren’t familiar, there’s a good bet you’ll recognize their current projects – with guitarist Jonas Kjellgren and vocalist Roberth Karlsson both having spent time in Scar Symmetry just to go for a simple starter, and drummer Janne Jaloma of Dark Funeral/Night Crowned fame joining them. Combining a deep musician bench with its monstrous cover art, Weapons Of Spiritual Carnage may in fact be one of the more recent 2023 releases tailor-made for a few different writer’s tastes on this here site.
A late-April release that we’re just now breathlessly catching up on, Weapons Of Spiritual Carnage is near-thirty-eight minutes of ‘never stopping’ death metal, and that is playing it fairly nice. We’ve gotten good at finding the guitar-riff-apocalypse style albums over the years and Jonas Kjellgren has clearly felt like there was room to contribute more on that front. Weapons Of Spiritual Carnage isn’t just a riff-apocalypse of an album though, its a musical mountaintop collapsing and the listener happens to be at the bottom gazing into a quickly growing cloud coming their way.
The album is already moving like liquid fire from the word ‘go’ and then just never lets off from there. Nearly the entirety of the run-time is going to be crammed with buzzing guitar riffs and drums delivered rapid-fire. “Solemn Pestilence” lays the groundwork and then the other eight songs (and one brief interstitial) make damn sure that it is going to be embedded in the concrete before affairs close out.
The initial three hell-storming songs give way to the first angular affair in “Infinite Virulent”, which will likely catch attention off of its groove-based and drummer-focused opening. After three songs that are so relentless that the ever-burning fire outside your window becomes acceptable, the angular groove to eventual neck-snapping that is “Infinite Virulent” will catch some attention. Not to say the titular “Weapons Of Spiritual Carnage” is nothing to shake a stick at it either; it has a fantastic melody and closing section. You hear a lot of blastbeats in this hobby and over the years have slowly felt the brain turn to mush because of it, yet there’s still a few impressive runs during “Weapons Of Spiritual Carnage” that are musical world-ending all the same.
Ironmaster are ramming a handful of genres together across Weapons Of Spiritual Carnage; they themselves say they put a heavier emphasis on the blackened side of things on the follow-up album to last year’s Thy Ancient Fire. They have more than that going on though, given that much of their current musical brew pulls from a very modern landscape.
There’s very light old-school riffing here but not in the sense that they go full ‘zero thought activity’ as is popular at the moment, they just happen to like a good buzzsaw. There’s also a whole ton of guitar-chug though, which means they can get a little -core at times. “Lies Of Apathy” especially has these massive downswinging moments that are verging on near-breakdown before the group accelerate into the next high-speed asskicking into the stratosphere. That part is a constant of the Ironmaster writing style though; to deviate into an odd musical realm or get very, very percussive and then accelerate the song through the wall to bring things back around to nonstop hell-fire.
We enjoy the endless headcrushing style of music that Ironmaster strangle into their specific formula around here, and Weapons Of Spiritual Carnage is a damned good one of those kinds of releases. There’s zero room for subtlety on this one and it is written to overwhelm – informing people that there is in fact one interstitial instrumental on here in the form of “Implications Of Sacred Time” for a whole thirty-six seconds feels almost like you’re fucking with them. Yet, that is the sort of release Weapons Of Spiritual Carnage is.
It is death metal weaponized and singularly focused on the constant aggression. There’s some great lead-guitar work here, especially as Ironmaster experiment more in the latter half of the disc, but the velocity here is constant and you’ll get plenty of Roberth ready to crush faces over these thirty-eight minutes. Weapons Of Spiritual Carnage is a good time if you’re on the hunt to be pulverized into a fine paste via music.