Thursday, October 10, 2013

…Fall to your knees : IRON MAN – ‘South of the Earth’

From the destructive, groove-laden riff that tears open the title track from Iron Man’s latest, ‘South of the Earth’, to the piano fadeout of “The Ballad of Ray Garraty” the band makes it clear that their sole mission is the complete and utter obliteration of the sonically weak. With the addition of Screaming Mad Dee behind the mic and Mot Waldmann on drums the reinvigorated Iron Man continues to make good on the promise intimated on their ‘Att hålla dig over’ EP by crafting devastatingly heavy, adrenalized doom . Not to diminish the influence of Iron Man founder and sole original member, Al Morris III, the man is a seemingly never-ending chasm of riffs, but it seems as if Iron Man is finally the sum of its parts.
 While past incarnations of the band have released some stone cold classics, particularly ‘The Passage’ and ‘Generation Void’, the contributions of Dee and Waldmann cannot be denied. At the center of previous Iron Man releases was the unmistakable riff-slinging tone and groove of Morris III and everything else—vocals, drums, and bass seemed to be either supportive or incidental. Don’t be mistaken, Iron Man has always boasted excellent vocalists and supporting musicians, particularly Dan Michalak’s vocals which worked flawlessly with the doomier side of the band, and Gary Isom’s drumming on ‘The Passage’ is nothing short of top-notch, but the current lineup is the perfect storm of musicianship and personality.
 Screaming Mad Dee is nothing short of a wailing banshee possessing both the dynamic range and power to match the heft of Morris III’s riffs, the pulsating, funky pop of Louis Strachan’s basslines, and the thunderous timing of Waldmann’s drums. ‘South of the Earth’ is an incredibly well-balanced album allowing the individual players to standout and shine. Lyrically, ‘South of the Earth’ is mired in tales of betrayal, madness, misery, and woe without failing to acknowledge the darkness that lies beyond the realm of men with tunes like “IISOEO (The Day of the Beast)” and “Half-Face/Thy Brother’s Keeper (Dunwich pt. 2)”. With Dee penning the lyrics, Iron Man is a darker, grimmer beast grappling with real world adversity and struggling against the supernatural forces from beyond.
Iron Man’s latest incarnation has taken the band to new heights both musically and thematically. Production-wise ‘South of the Earth’ is flawless—heft is equally balanced with clarity and every member’s contributions are essential to the end product. While Iron Man is still rooted in upbeat, mid-to-faster paced doom, ‘South of the Earth’ also incorporates more straightforward elements of hard rock and metal. There may be those who lament the subtle shift from the heavy doom that Iron Man has traditionally dealt out, but the band’s current lineup is a force to be reckoned with as ‘South of the Earth’ achieves its weight from a solid collective effort—another worthy addition to the Iron Man discography.
Words: Steve Miller

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