Friday 4 October 2013

Iron Man - South Of The Earth - Album Review

Iron Man
South Of The Earth

Rise Above
30 September 2013

The band:

Dee Calhoun - vocals
Al Morris III - guitars
Louis Strachan - bass guitar
Jason"Mot"Waldmann - drums

The songs:

1. South Of The Earth 06:07
2. Hail To The Haze 05:00
3. The Whore In Confession 06:41
4. The Worst And Longest Day 06:30
5. Aerial Changed The Sky 02:16
6. IISOEO (The Day Of The Beast) 04:55
7. Half-Face/Thy Brother's Keeper (Dunwich Pt 2) 07:56
8. In The Velvet Darkness 05:13
9. The Ballad Of Ray Garraty 07:38

Finally it's here, Iron Man's first full-length with the two latest line-up additions, the mighty Screaming Mad Dee Calhoun on vocals and Jason "Mot" Waldmann on drums. The EP featuring them Att Hålla Dig Över from 2012 promised so much for this release and man the band is fantastic form! Founder Al Morris has done a great job bringing these guys together because the vibrant dynamics between the members is so tangible you can cut it with a knife.

Not wasting any time Iron Man jumps head first into the dark and frightening recesses of the mind with the title track, South Of The Earth. Dee spits out his venom and fury as guitar maestro Al makes mountains shudder, rumble and fall. His solo is absolutely amazing! If you don't feel the hurt enough Lou's thumping, thunderous bass will make the process short as Mot pounds you sorry remains to dust. Bringing an onslaught of riffs Hail To The Haze takes the pace down a notch although the heaviness remains. Oozing anger and paranoia it moves perfectly within the realm of what Iron Man are...absolutely amazing and totally relentless.

When The Whore In Confession kicks it took me a few moments to realize that there aren't two guitar players on this track. The strange-sounding riff I hear is Lou ripping it up on his bass. As the other guys are crushing it Mr.Strachan's work on the 4-string axe is impeccable. This is heavy people, heavy as hell and fucking fantastic. Oh yeah, the insanity continues on The Worst And Longest Day. No speed demon antics, instead the band keeps the pace down and let the riffs wash over me as the drums are crushing my already weakened frame of mind. As if they know what state I'm in Iron Man unleashes Aerial Changed The Sky a beautiful instrumental piece that allows me to cool down. Only featuring guitars it showcases Al's magic as a six-string if you didn't know that already!

The respite is brief though as IISOEO (The Day Of The Beast) throws me out in deep water. Stepping on the pedal this maelstrom of a song has me fighting hard to stay afloat and really, why do I fight it? Instead I finally let go and let the music immerse me taking me away to, as it turns out, beautiful places. In all it's darkness the album is a catharsis that cleanses me time and time again. After the brief intro Half-Face leads into Thy Brother's Keeper and man the ever-present heaviness is so pronounced here. It feels like a damn tank has parked right on top of me as the band shows no mercy at all and I'm just loving it.

In The Velvet Darkness is a step away from what Iron Man sounds like. The band's trademarks are still there but on this one there's quite a bit of Iron Maiden added. It's mainly in Dee's phrasing where he puts Dickinson to shame but also towards the end of the song where parts of the music has an air of Maiden about it. Sounds fantastic and adds another dimension to Iron Man's stunning musical palette. Last out is The Ballad Of Ray Garraty and man, check out Al's solo halfway through...I drop my jaw to the floor everytime I hear it! Telling the story about the young kid in Stephen King's story The Long Walk it is a fitting end to this amazing album. What I mean is you can take Ray's hike to find a refuge/haven and pin it to the band in the way that it's leading to another album, the walk is not yet over and I can't wait.

It's been four since the last Iron Man album, I Have Returned, and with 2/4's of the line-up they are like a brand new band. Nothing of who they are is missing, it's simply that they have reinvented themselves in the best possible way. And they have come out of that rejuvenated, almost like a brand new band and man, I for one can't be happier! Whether you have followed these guys for a long time or you just discovered them get South Of The Earth because it is one of a kind. For me 2013 has been a great year as far as new albums goes and this one has made even more better. And people say music these days is bad?! Listen to Iron Man and you know they have no clue!

Written by Håkan Nyman 

Thanks to Rise Above Records for sending us a promo to review. Buy this brilliant album now. You won't be disappointed.

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