Release DetailsLABEL Youngblood Records
RELEASED ON 3/14/2006
posted on 5/2006 By:
Depending on how you look at it, Iron Age is either a new band pinning their hopes on the newly resurrected crossover scene (thank you Municipal Waste!) or just a hardcore band that listened to way too much D.R.I. and Cro-Mags growing up. The D.R.I. influence comes through strongly in almost every aspect of their songwriting but it’s only particular parts of their style. They don’t play insanely fast, proto grind songs of their early period or the straight thrash of their later work, instead concentrating on the slow, bass dominated grooves and tasteful lead guitar work that has more in common with the songs on Crossover and Four Of A Kind. In fact, the lead guitarist is critical in them being able to pull off this sound. His excellent period appropriate lead work is nothing fancy, humble even, but his subtle leads really help give these songs the classic D.R.I. sound.
When they do manage to speed it up, which is quite rare actually, it’s also a vintage approach but with a more focused hardcore edge like Age Of Quarrel era Cro-Mags versus a thrash element. It’s not anywhere near as raw and violent as the early Cro-Mags sound but it’s in the same vein of straight up street style NYHC before it turned super metal. It sounds great here but is used far too sparingly to say it’s a big part of their sound. It’s definitely something I wish played a bigger role as it would give these songs more range.
Lets not forget the final element of any band, the vocals. Like a perfect period piece Halloween costume, you have to pay attention to every detail to make sure it’s convincing. And in this department the vocals don’t disappoint. They’re gruff and atonal with zero range…in other words perfectly conforming to the precedent laid down by the infamous tone deaf Kurt Brecht of D.R.I. But he’s no Kurt clone. Instead he sounds similar to the guy from Paint It Black but with the tendency to shout out the last syllable of a word, something the first Cro-Mags singer was quite fond of as well.
The two areas that prevent this from being a truly great crossover release are the pacing and the lack of any thrash elements beyond a few token gallops. There are a few faster songs and some faster sections as noted above but it’s predominantly slower groove based songwriting that rules the day here. This sounds great the first few times but with little contrast it gets a bit repetitive. Needless to say without a big thrash vibe this falls too squarely in the hardcore realm to truly count as a crossover record. No doubt this puts them in a bit of an awkward position in terms of building a big fan base as this record is not metal enough to win over purists and has way too much lead guitar and slow parts for hardcore fans. Hey, at least they can count me as a fan!
I think these guys have made a fun record that gives some serious nods to some great bands of old but manages to circumvent being a watered down derivative. Of course this release could feel quaint in a couple years if this crossover genre really takes off again but as it stands now this is a welcome addition to the growing reformation of this scene, even if it skews heavily towards the punk end of the spectrum.
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