I Have Returned
posted on 8/2009 By:
Maryland’s Iron Man started out in 1988 as a Black Sabbath tribute band. The band began releasing original material in 1993 on the legendary Hellhound Records label. The now defunct Hellhound was the one time home of doom titans Saint Vitus, and The Obsessed, as well as a host of other Maryland doom bands such as Internal Void and Unorthodox. Despite being a doom fan of some measure, I was completely ignorant of Iron Man’s existence until I was introduced them a few months ago by Metal Review’s own Dr. Doom, Michael Wuensch. My ignorance might be forgivable, however, because the fittingly titled I Have Returned is Iron Man’s first full-length album in ten years. The layoff does not seem to have done the band any harm, as I Have Returned finds the band cranking out classic styled doom like it is 1971.
Having started as a Black Sabbath tribute band and taking its name from one of Sabbath’s most popular songs, I sure most our esteemed readers have by now figured out that Iron Man sound’s more than a little like metal’s founding fathers. Despite the similarities, however, Iron Man is hardly a carbon copy. For instance: Guitarist and founder, “Iron” Al Morris’s fuzzy guitar tone as well as a penchant for wah and other effects gives the music a psychedelic tinge. The band also employs looser, more groove oriented riffs than Sabbath, giving the music a bit of a stoner rock feel. There is no shortage of heavy handed doom, of course, but for the most part the riffs fail to be as memorable and thematic as those of Sabbath.
The first half of I have Returned is full of by the numbers doom tracks like “Burn the Sky” and “Run to the Light,” which are suitably dark and ominous, but not exceptionally compelling affairs. The band is more effective when they venture into more melodic and dynamic territory. The album really hits its stride fairly late into the proceedings: Track six, the brief but effective acoustic piece “Days of Olde” sets the stage for the album's centerpiece, the ferocious title track. Vocalist, Joe Donnelly leads the way on this track with his catchiest chorus on the album thus far and a more energized performance. Donnelly’s performance seems to infect the rest of the band, as all parties seem to play with more authority than previously displayed. Donnelly turns in another fine vocal on the album’s other highlight, “Fallen Angel.” It is Iron Al that really shines on this track, though, with some airy, flanged (or maybe its phased, I cannot tell those effects apart) riffs and chiming harmonics, that sound more like Jimi Hendrix than Tony Iommi.
Good doom records are hardly scarce of late, but few are as true to the genre's roots as I have Returned. While it may not be a stunning album, if you are yearning for doom in the most traditional sense, I Have Returned should fit the bill.
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