Thursday, September 19, 2013

Iron Man-South of the Earth

Metal Blade Records / Rise Above Records

For a group that originally started out playing nothing but Black Sabbath covers, which was probably more of a novelty back in the late eighties then it is now, Iron Man has come a long way. It was back in 1988 when guitarist Alfred Morris III (ex-Force) first formed the tribute band which would eventually evolve into one of Maryland's better doom metal outfits. In 1993 the group released their debut album, "Black Knight", which was well-received and served as just the first of many steps in Iron Man's long journey. Of course it's a journey that is hardly ever that easy and it sure as heck wasn't easy for this Maryland band. This bunch has been hit with line-up changes and label problems which have resulted in unforeseen delays in Iron Man's career. While they have had their share of shake-ups (members coming in and out) it's always been Morris and his guitar playing that has seen this band through. His style of playing is heavy (even for a doom metal band) and while they may have started off sounding like a band that coveted Black Sabbath at one point (and likely still do) they have long since shaken off that tag. Theirs is the sound of traditional doom, and good doom at that, with a slightly adventurous take on 80's heavy metal and some nods towards 70's hard rock. On this new album, which is (and yes it's cheesy) bad to the bone, the line-up is Morris (of course) as well as
"Screaming Mad" Dee Calhoun (vocals), Louis Strachan (bass) and Jason "Mot" Waldmann (drums). I can't be sure off hand (as I'm on my "handy"), but Iron Man must be on (at least) vocalist number three by now. And you know what? It doesn't matter in the least! Morris's guitar tone seems to be the real key here with the other pieces playing their respectable parts in accordance. Does that mean everyone else is expendable? No, of course not! All together this is a tight until, four guys doing what they do best-playing doom! It's just that on this album and in this band things revolve around
Alfred and some of the finest sweet leaf licks out there! Recorded and mixed at Hudson Street Sound, Annapolis, Maryland, with Frank Marchand III sitting in the producer's chair, the new Iron Man album is a given as far as must-owns for doom fanatics and even those who just like old-fashioned heavy metal. There's really no bands that you compare this bunch with as they've worked hard at creating their own sound while also cementing their place in heavy metal's history books. Iron Man is the real deal and "South of the Earth" is a nice addition to the group's catalog.

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