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Iron & Stone : Old Man's Doom (EP)

No surprises but plenty of enthusiasm characterise Iron & Stone's latest EP.

Recently, something weird has happened in the land of the mulleted power metal ballad: it seems to have pulled together something of a thriving Doom scene. Even just a few years ago, it was hard to point at much beyond Ahab, Ophis and Doomed, alongside the disbanded or mutated likes of Gardens Of Gehenna or Lacrimas Profundere. Suddenly, though, across the spectrum from Crimson Swan to Grimmage, Frowning to Black Thyria, GOWLOn to Lord Vigo, the last 12 months has seen a rash of quite credible Doom releases. And to that list, one should now add Iron & Stone, flying the good-time Trad/Stoner flag with this second EP.

Expanded to a full five-piece band since the release of 2013's 'Memoirs' EP as a duo, founders Henning L. and Stephan M. retain vocal and guitar duties respectively, while adding a second guitarist, bassist and drummer. Therein comes the major change from the debut's sound: while largely sticking to the same tried-and-true formula, the depth and breadth added by the extra personnel does much to round out previous rough edges and fill the bottom-end space with something other than programmed drums. Broadly, though, it's following the same Black Sabbath meets Blue Cheer via Kyuss blueprint that bands like Acrimony had as their entire mission statement. Iron & Stone do mix in a bit of Soundgarden-esque punked-out grunge metal, for a bit of variety, towards the end of the EP, but it's fairly clear they're more about enjoying what they're doing than pushing out any of the well-established boundaries.

What you get for your money, assuming you don't just take the download option, is a fairly short and entirely self-produced pro-tape, with a simple cover with psychedelic lettering last seen adorning Iron Butterfly albums beamed forward from 1967. And why not? - the 'Butterfly were as influential as any in developing that West Coast child-of-sunshine psych vibe at the heart of so much modern Stoner. The warm, earthy sound of analogue media suits the material well, as redolent, in its own way, of the half-century history of the genre as the logotype is. For an EP that really could have been put together pretty much anywhen in the past 30 years, both seem apposite.

What really counts about 'Old Man's Doom', though, is the enthusiasm with which the band tackle their chosen niche, and that's something which can't really be faulted. They plunge into it with considerable verve, uniting behind Henning's raucous and rough-edged bellow like a tightly-controlled juggernaut heading downhill. The slow and steady 'Place In Hell' establishes their more Trad credentials, before picking up the pace with a swaggeringly catchy Stoner drive to 'Into The Unknown', and letting the rolling momentum carry them into almost-frantic 'Badmotorfinger's 'Rusty Cage' territory for the brief and rapid closer 'Bliss Of Diversion'.

It's Doom, sure, but forget the introversion and exploration of human misery associated with much of the genre: you can't really spend too much time weighing up philosophical existentialism when your hands are automatically reaching for an air guitar. This is horns-up, headbanging stuff that could be sponsored by JCB for its bulldozing qualities. The downside, as far as reviewing and scoring goes: you've heard it before. Guaranteed. And the brevity of the limited package perhaps makes it more of a collector's thing than an essential general purchase. Still, worth a crack: expect to enjoy it, without being in any way surprised.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Place In Hell
2. Into The Unknown
3. Bliss Of Diversion

Duration : Approx. 13 minutes

Visit the Iron & Stone bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-07-22 by Mike Liassides
A Dream Of Poe - The Wraith Uncrowned
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