The Baltimore, Maryland based four-piece known as Iron Man has been making music for a number of years, flying just below the mainstream radar all along. The band has been classified as a “doom rock” band for most of its career. However, its new album, South of the Earth is more akin to the sludge rock sound of Black Label Society, Brand New Sin, and the band’s label mates in Horisont. The only real link to the “doom” genre would be the lyrical side of the band’s new album. That being the case, this new nine-track release is one that any purist metal head will enjoy no less with each listen.
South of the Earth opens solidly with the album’s title track. Whether one is familiar with the band’s sound or not, it is a powerful first impression from the band on this record. Front man Screaming Mad Dee’s vocals sound like a cross between King’s X vocalist/bassist dUg Pinnick and legendary Black Label Society front man/guitarist Zakk Wylde. That is quite the statement for anyone that is familiar with either singer. For those that aren’t so familiar with either vocalist, suffice it to say that Dee is a powerhouse vocalist. That his voice can go from almost guttural depths to ear-piercing screams in the blink of an eye without sounding like so many cookie monster growling figures makes an even bolder statement. Bassist Louis Strachan and guitarist Alfred Morris III add even more punch to this song with their full-on one-two attack. Morris’ solos in this song are the stuff that young guitarists dream of doing one day. And drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann’s performance behind the kit shows such control in this slower song. That show of control also shows just how much talent he boasts. And along with his band mates, the whole unit makes the album’s opener one that will have listeners’ horns high instantly.
The energy doesn’t let up once the album’s opener ends. The band picks right back up and keep things moving in the album’s second track, ‘Hail to The Haze.’ When Dee sings in the song’s chorus, “How much longer/How much longer/How much longer inside/Can this monstrosity hide/How much longer/How much longer/How much longer/Must I wait/To release my hate” the power in his voice does quite the job of exhibiting his subject’s personal inner struggle. Again, add in the musicianship of his band mates, and listeners get what is one more shining gem off of South of the Earth.
South of the Earth is loaded with songs from start to finish that any true metal head will appreciate. It boasts, as noted, both slower, heavier songs and pieces that are more up-tempo. For all of its hard-hitting songs, there is one song that stands out among them all. That song is the instrumental break that is ‘Ariel Changed The Sky.’ This roughly two-minute plus acoustic piece is a total contrast to everything else on this record. It is a gentle, airy opus that gives listeners just enough time to catch their collective breath before the band launches into its full-on musical assault again on the record’s second half. It is a perfectly placed break. And it is equally beautiful. It’s one more show of talent from the band, and one more example of what makes South of the Earth a record that any purist metal head will appreciate no matter how old.
South of the Earth is available now in stores and online on Metal Blade Records and Rise Above Records. The band will be playing a hometown show next Sunday, October 13th in support of its new album. It will be performing at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore alongside St. Vitus, Pallbearer, and Hookers. The band has more dates to follow. Fans can check them out on the band’s official website, http://www.ironmanband.com. Fans can also get more information from the band on its official Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Iron-Man-Band/146118265408361.
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