Iron Balls Of Steel
posted on 2/2012 By:
As a metal fan, certain things happen when you see a band named Loincloth with an album called Iron Balls of Steel. Visions of Manowar dance through your head, followed by epic battle scenes of Conan-like proportions. Soon, it’s simply the victors standing above the fallen, weapons raised high into the air. Barbarians, battle, TRIUMPHANT VICTORY! Yes, this is going to be glorious.
Except that reality doesn’t quite follow that script. Not to the letter, anyway. In reality, Loincloth is a modern-day brute squad that lays waste to the landscape and the pitiful masses that populate it with deadly force. There is no celebration or triumphant posturing; the destruction alone is celebration enough. Key to any battle is the strategy, which here means a production and mix that maximizes their forces. Founder Tannon Penland’s guitars are on the frontline leading the attack; Steve Shelton’s (Confessor) drums are the tank battalion; Cary Rowells’s (also of Confessor) bass delivers the crushing blows. None of the elements are in direct rhythm at all times, yet they all advance lockstep for maximum power. Vocals? Who needs ‘em?! This is a ground-and-pound affair. The addition of an aerial strike would just muddle things up.
With blood and body parts splattered and scattered, determining attack patterns and assault points proves difficult, but repeat analysis does begin to uncover a few things. It begins fittingly with “Underwear Bomb” and “Slow 6 Apocalypse.” The former is akin to a carpet bombing, Rowells’s bass notes causing the Earth to tremble with each percussive blow; whereas the latter takes a more methodical approach, guitar, bass, and drums working in chaotic disharmony to vanquish the enemy. Soon after, they are turned into “Angel Bait,” via a stealth approach that turns into a rolling assault courtesy of courtesy of Shelton’s rumbling percussive assault. As the enemy retreats, the two-pronged attack of “The Poundry” – oppressive guitar riffs backed up by an equally oppressive bassline – turns those who attempted to flee into dust. Any remaining survivors are laid to waste by “The Clostfroth,” which is similar to the Death Blossom in that it is a seemingly random chaotic attack, but is in reality carefully timed, all weapons firing in a 360 degree barrage until the only thing left moving are the flames that engulf the burning bodies.
Unfortunately, many of the battle lines become blurred. Although maneuvers such as “Hoof-Hearted,” “Shark Dancer,” and “The Moistener” are clearly effective, it becomes difficult at times to tell where one attack ends and the next begins. In battle, as in recorded music, consistency and flow can make or break a campaign. There is such a thing as being too smooth, though, and when you can blink and miss multiple shifts, it can be unsettling. Although it is hard to argue with the results, some might prefer a bit more variety and clarity, as these would maximize the body count.
All metaphor aside, Iron Balls of Steel is an instrumental juggernaut with shades of Godflesh and Neurosis – and of course, much of the Southern Lord roster – that just attacks and pounds away until you beg for mercy, then it keeps on attacking some more. It’s Confessor-styled progressive heavy metal sans vocals and with a slightly lighter edge. If you’re a drumming freak or a fan of avant-garde instrumental metal, or just enjoy technological warfare, you might want to give this a whirl. If they’re capable of this kind of destruction now, I’m almost scared to hear what they’ll be capable of the next time.
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