Maintaining consistency over the span of four full-lengths and almost as many EP’s is a task that most bands can’t even dream of achieving. Iron Man is not only one of the select few who have managed this feat, but they have arguably done so while improving with age. Over the years, Iron Man linchpin Al Morris III and his revolving cast of supporters have continued to release some of the heaviest, up-tempo, doom metal around. The release of the band’s third EP, ‘Att hålla dig over’, has proven two things: Al Morris III is a never-ending chasm of massive, doomed-out riffage, and the band’s seemingly current stable lineup is capable of surpassing the heft and groove of previous releases.
The one-two punch combination of “Quicksand” and “Crucified”—two of the strongest tracks ever recorded by the band—are propelled by a group in unison. Not to take away from Al, but the band is now a culmination of all the players and not simply based around gargantuan riffs. Of note is the bass playing of Louis Strachan who helped bring the ‘I Have Returned’ album to the next level, but who is now further brought to prominence by the production of “Att hålla dig over”. The songs simply have a depth that was unattainable with former incarnations of the band. If you’re ever in need for a soundtrack for vengeance you could do much worse than the EP’s first single, “Quicksand”, a tune that vocalist “Screaming Mad” Dee has explained, “If you’re mortally wounded, you have two choices: you can either die quietly and alone, or you can reach out and grab the people who did it to you and make damn sure you drag them down with you. This song is about the second choice in that analogy.” Dee Calhoun is without a doubt Iron Man’s most powerful and versatile vocalist and it’s both humbling and near quake-inducing when he belts out, “Are you scared of what has come for you/To call to task atrocities come true/At the end—each take my hand/And come with me down to the sand”.
Tracking wise ‘Att hålla dig over’ is quite similar to 2011’s ‘Dominance’ EP. Both EP’s begin with two standout Iron Man tunes and are followed by acoustic numbers. Whereas the ‘Dominance’ EP showcases a haunting instrumental interlude in the form of “Eternal Sleep”, ‘Att hålla dig over’ utilizes acoustic guitar, harmonica, and vocals for “Suffer the Children”, a tune that really reveals another side of the band by showcasing a gentler vocal delivery of Dee and some really deft guitar playing on behalf of Al. The main divergence with ‘Att hålla dig over’ is that the band has used the opportunity to re-record an Iron Man classic, “On the Mountain”, for the fourth track. ‘The Passage’ and ‘Generation Void’ of the Michalak era are stone cold classics, so the re-recording of “On the Mountain” is a bit superfluous, though it is interesting to see how a current lineup can interpret material from the past. While the bassline stands out and the drums have a pop that is absent on the original courtesy of new drummer, Jason "Mot" Waldmann, the track from ‘Generation Void’ is still the definitive version.
While ‘Dominance’ may have a slight edge over ‘Att hålla dig over’, it is still as consistent and heavy as any other release in the band’s catalogue. Hopefully ‘Att hålla dig over’ can indeed hold fans over until the band can record their next full-length album. Based on the latest efforts and the strength of this current lineup expectations will be high. Order ‘Att hålla dig over’ straight from the band.
Words: Steve Miller