Sunday, August 7, 2011

Underground Classic - Iron Monkey 'Our Problem' -Earache 1997

Formed in Nottingham in 1994 , and named after a seminal Kung Fu flick, Iron Monkey  , although only having a short , and somewhat troubled five year run as a band proper, are a band nevertheless deserving of their place in sludge/doom history.Apart from the member's pedigree and accomplishments since the split ,with various members of the band going on to play in bands such as Electric Wizard and Capricorns, during their short existence the band managed to make a couple of cracking albums, and it's their 1997 Earache release, 'Our Problem', that gets the Underground Classic treatment today.

The band's key sound mainly lay in the sludge rock  that bands such as Electric Wizard and Eyehategod did and do continute to propagate, with a notable Sabbath influence, evidenced particularly  by the band's homage to 'Hole In The Sky' 's muffled yell on album opener 'Bad Year'.However, Iron Monkey were as much about rocking out  as they were doomy drones, and in tracks like 'Boss Keloid' and 'House Anxiety', the band's love of old school english hardcore bands such as Discharge and Crass shines through , along with a sense of groove that recalls some of Motorhead's more fired up early  moments.'I .R.M.S' meanwhile  is an exploration of pure molten evil , the band locked into a killer swampy death groove that nags at the cerebellum long after you've hit stop.'Golden Rules' is  all Cathedral esque guitar pomp, while closer 'Joint Spiritual Whip' rivals anything off Electric Wizard's seminal 'Dopethrone' record for sheer , monged out nod along stoner metal riffing.All the while, late, great singer Johnny Morrow grunts and howls like a man going to hell in a handbasket, as the band create an irrestible wall of noise around him.

What perhaps sets 'Our Problem ' apart from other albums in a similar vein however is the production.Put simply, it's excellent, the guitars clear and rich, with a tone that Iommi himself would be proud of, ,not   to mention an excellent drum sound,  and  I would dare say it's a joy to listen to even if it's not your taste in music, just to hear how a doom record SHOULD sound.Add to this the band's clear talent as songwriters, and the fact that not one moment , even during the epic 20 minute blast of 'Joint Spiritual Whip',  feels wasted or thrown in, and you have a true sludge classic, no bullshit, just dope jams to soundtrack a few cans of cheap cider and a sneaky soapbar spliff.

Morrow's passing in 2002 after suffering a heart attack sadly spelled the end to any hope of a proper reunion, so unfortunately it's all about the band's recorded output these days.So out of respect for the man , light up a three skin, crank the fucking bass, and be blown away by the sound of Iron Monkey.

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