Iron Man – Dominance EP …   Leave a comment

It goes without saying that Iron Man are Maryland doom legends but constant line-up changes and other hiccups throughout their career has stopped them from reaching international doom-god status, however they are doom-gods as far as I am concerned and it is about time, people woke up and gave them the credit they deserve. Al Morris III  is a guitar-wizard that is up there with Iommi, Wino and Griffin and yet he too has never got the accolades or the respect that is so overdue. Originally formed as a Black Sabbath tribute band, they have forged a career that is full of monumental classic songs and albums starting with ‘Black Night’ in 1993 to ‘I Have Returned’ in 2009.

Now in 2011 we see the addition of Screaming Mad Dee Calhoun on vocals and Mike Rix on drums. This new blood has given the band even more vitality, not that it was really needed. ‘I Have Returned’ was a masterpiece of an album so where can they go from there? Well, lets just say that ‘Dominance’ is a EP that not only further increases their rank as doom-rock masters, it cements it in stone for eternity.

Every Iron Man release has had its own unique vibe and this EP is no different. The main thing I notice here is the vibrant, energetic nature of these tunes which is largely due to Screaming Mad Dee Calhoun’s classic rock vocals. While Al Morris III is up there in talent to Iommi and Co, Calhoun is up there with all of metal’s legendary screamers but also classic rock frontmen of the 70’s as well. His expressive vocal range and gargantuan power is awe-inspiring and now that it is in combination with Morris – it makes Iron Man an even more of a  seriously tasty kick-ass band. This EP is short, only 3 songs, 4-5 minutes in length and a one and a bit minute acoustic instrumental but it is a powerhouse blast of classic doom-rock that is as heavy as it is infectious.

Opening track ‘Ruler of Ruin’ kicks out the jams with sludge-filled groove and old-school metallic energy. Very sabbathian of course but it is injected with a high-energy charge of infectious old-school metal that is in the vein of early 80’s NWOBHM, Motorhead being the more obvious example. Morris unleashes fiery, energetic riff-work that still has the sabbathy trademarks but this is one of his most lively guitar work-outs he has done in quite some time. Calhoun’s vocals are a blend of soaring notes and incredibly catchy hooks while the drums and bass are locked in a pulverizing, stomping groove. Along the way we are treated to a killer guitar solo so the song is a complete, mesmerizing performance and a devastating way to open the ‘Dominance’ EP.

‘The Final Straw’ is up next and is doomier overall than the opening track even though it has a thrashy edge to the guitar work. Al Morris unleashes giant waves of fuzz and psyched-out riffing while Mad Dee Calhoun pushes his voice to new heights of vocal gymnastics through some incredible wailing vocals. The feel of this tune is one of psyched-out doomy blues blending in with the pulverizing rhythm section that really lets loose on this tune. Iron Man are certainly on fire during this EP and I guess the only thing wrong with it at this stage in the EP is you know there is only a couple of tracks left…..bummer!! The acoustic interlude ‘Eternal Sleep’ brings to mind those classic Black Sabbath instrumental’s such as ‘Fluff’ and ‘Laguna Sunrise’ and the vibe and atmosphere of ‘Eternal Sleep’ has the same calming, stoned effect. At only 1:21 in length it is a very short breather of a tune but it is a nice lead in to the last track here, ‘Grown.’

‘Grown’ begins with a Al Morris III monster riff; one of his all time best really. It is an apocalyptic, bombastic doom-laden groove-driven riff that is spine-chilling due to its infectious sabbathian nature. Screaming Mad Dee Calhoun really out shines himself on this track with an exceptional vocal take; he pushes his pipes to the breaking point by holding notes that brings tears to the eyes. His vocals are constantly tuneful and full of emotion and that happens no matter if he is using his upper or lower register, the great thing is it doesn’t matter at all as he excels in both vocal directions. ‘Grown’ builds in heaviness and in doominess the longer it plays and by the time Morris rips into another electrifying, exquisite solo, it is all too clear; this is the masters at work. Iron Man have recorded some crushing doom in the past but this is perhaps their heaviest composition to date, an utter, flawless masterpiece.

Alright, I will admit this is one long-ass review just for 16 minutes of music but it deserves it and I could ramble on for another 1,000 words if I wanted to about how good this EP is. ‘Dominance’ is the work of seasoned players and incredible song-writers but it is also a very skilful dose of doom-rock that sounds as every bit as up-to-date and revelant as any new band currently out there in the doom scene. Iron Man have always kept one foot firmly on the old-school sabbathian ways but there seems to be a new, fresh vitality to the band now that should push their legendary status up even higher if that is possible. You got to buy this ASAP….Essential…..10/10

Official Site
Iron Man @ Myspace
Official Iron Man Forum

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Posted June 7, 2011 by doommantia in Iron Man

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