Iron Man [USA]
Hellhound Records/Shadow Kingdom Records
There is no more obvious way of showing off one’s influences through the name of one’s musical project. In Iron Man‘s instance, rather than the Marvel character that people have come to associate the name with, they have adopted their moniker from Black Sabbath‘s song of the same title, and one familiar with the history of heavy metal will almost instinctively know what to expect on their second full length release, The Passage.
Despite its original release being in 1994, the band manages to ensure that their sound on The Passage remains as old school as possible, and from opening track The Fury one is brought back to the 60s/70s with Black Sabbath‘s first releases in the darkness and coldness that is emanated. Apart from the playing style of the band, Iron Man has also included sound samples that were so heavily utilised on Black Sabbath‘s first materials, such as the ominous undertones with sounds of rumbling thunder at the background.
But the thing that really brings about the comparison to Black Sabbath over here is the playing style of the band. Guitarist Alfred Morris II’s playing style, with the downtuned guitars and the crushing riffs combined with the rather bluesy leads that he adopts easily reminds one of the works of Tomy Iommi, with drummer Gary Isom also adding a nice touch with the drums, bringing one back to the days of Master of Reality. The songwriting and the stylistics that are on the album also closely resemble Black Sabbath, with the fusion of heavier tracks and softer and slightly psychedelic moments on the album like the intro of Unjust Reform.
The one thing that managed to stand out and prevent the band from being yet another Black Sabbath or Saint Vitus clone though is the vocals of Dan Michalak on the album, with his rather unique vocal quality. His clean and clear vocals give the music on The Passage a nice touch, and there are even moments on the album where his attempts to hit higher notes bring to mind Dio‘s works on Black Sabbath or Heaven & Hell – hell, Harvest of Earth‘s vocal and melody progression easily reminds one of songs such as Lonely is the Word, albeit slightly more upbeat.
While Iron Man are certainly not the first band to venture into such genres, Shadow Kingdom Records’ reissue of The Passage comes at a nice time as people are awaiting for new material from other contemporary bands such as Orchid, and is an album that will surely please fans of early doom such as Black Sabbath or Saint Vitus.