Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ear Candy: Iron Age

Back in the late 90's/early 2000's, I developed a fascination with the metal sub-genre known as "stoner rock". I was already a huge fan of Kyuss and Monster Magnet after discovering them in high school, but was unaware that a whole scene had risen up around the particular style of metal they played (Sleep's Holy Mountain was on my radar as well and that band was certainly influential on the stoner rock scene). Around '97/'98 when I was getting into bands like Fu Manchu, Nebula, Karma To Burn and Queens of the Stone Age (featuring Josh Homme from Kyuss), I discovered the record label Man's Ruin (who unfortunately are now defunct) which was mostly releasing albums that could fall under the stoner rock umbrella, but also dabbled in doom, punk and hardcore. As luck would have it, the record label I was working for around that time wound up signing a distribution deal with Man's Ruin and I was able to get a large chunk of their now out-of-print releases at no charge. And I literally gorged on these releases. It was all stoner rock, all the time. The bands sounds and styles varied more than your outside observer would know (kind of like someone who doesn't know much about metal will call Slayer "death metal" even though they aren't death metal at all) and there was a lot to explore. This went on for a couple months before I eventually completely burned out on the genre. I still love listening to Kyuss and their various offshoots including the aforementioned Queens of the Stone Age, Slo Burn and Unida (sadly both defunct now), the first three Monster Magnet albums and the occasional album from Nebula, Karma To Burn, The Obsessed and the quite good Argentinian Kyuss knock off Los Natas, but whenever someone tells me about an "it" band that is on a label known mostly for releasing stoner rock or the band is tagged as stoner rock (or the even more dreaded "hipster metal"), I am instantly weary. Case in point, everyone seems to be all hyped up on Red Fang, but the stuff I've heard is a total yawn fest and The Sword is absolutely overrated in my opinion. Arguably, the always impressive Mastodon and Clutch have started to be lumped in with the stoner rock genre, but their roots are in more extreme metal, so I'll give them a pass. Anyway, a few months ago, I started hearing some rumbling about a band called Iron Age who are signed to Tee Pee Records. Tee Pee is mostly known for putting out stone rock bands, so I was more than a bit skeptical that this band would be of any interest to me. Metalsucks streamed their album The Sleeping Eye in its entirety back in August to help promote its release and I decided to give at least the first song a listen just to hear what the buzz was all about. I wound up listening to the entire album, purchasing it a day or two later and see this being a contender for my year end Top 25 list. There are some elements of stoner rock/doom in their sound, but this is pretty much a thrashtastic bludgeoning as opposed to the typical glacier pace associated with that genre's heavier acts. These guys clearly spent (spend) some time listening to 80's thrash metal and wear the influence proudly on their sleeve. This is a straight up metal release and quite a pleasant surprise from Tee Pee Records.

I couldn't find any really great footage of the band performing and they don't appear to have an official video, but check out their Myspace page to stream tracks from the album.

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