While I am a huge fan of classic sludge metal like Eyehategod, Crowbar, Neurosis and early Melvins I more or less took an extended break from following the sub-genre around 2007 as I focused all of my time and energy into thrash and death metal. Sludge had reached a sort of messy peak that was fusing with post-rock and metalcore simultaneously; those genre fusings were too challenging for my tastes at the time. It wasn’t until 2014 or so that I started re-introducing myself to modern sludge metal and a lot of key bands/releases I missed out on in the early days. Iron Monkey was one of those bands that had been recommended to me endlessly back in the late 90’s but I’d never really checked them out. I specifically remember looking at those weird Amazon lists folks used to do and anytime someone recommended Electric Wizard they’d also say “…try Iron Monkey” for something ‘more wild’. To this day I’ve never listened to their ‘Iron Monkey’ or ‘Our Problem’ releases, and that might be why I came into their first release in 18 years with a pretty open mind.
I loved the self-titled record that Eyehategod returned to us with a few years back as well as the reformation of Corrosion of Conformity (sans Pepper Keenan) and this release is a sort of cross between those two styles of sludge and deranged crossover-hardcore punk. I’ve seen a lot of fuss over the change in vocalist and style but I’ll be damned if I didn’t instantly get into this. The screeching punk sound and NOLA-style sludge riffing really take me back to sitting in my garage with a down-tuned guitar and chugging out fast boxy riffing and feeling great about the groove. Nostalgia is more or less the reason I’m on board with this and I suppose that is opposite of folks who have been Iron Monkey fans since the first two records, which feature tons of slower doom riffs while 9-13 is more or less a fast and energetic album. Cruising through those other two albums there is certainly more of a southern rock-meets-doom/sludge vibe than this one, but both versions of Iron Monkey are pretty good and this one is far less dull.
The vocalist is terrible and grating, in fact this record agitates the hell out of me when I leave it on repeat. It really plays like a punked-up Eyehategod record. That could very well be the best endorsement of the music is that it manages to be so grating and forceful that it stands out among more tasteful extreme metal records from the year. So, if you don’t mind the loud and insane vocals paired with the odd Superjoint Ritual riff changes versus the doom/sludge of old Iron Monkey you should probably jump on this. See if you can identify the Helmet riff from “OmegaMangler”!
|Released||October 20, 2017|
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