IRON MONKEY - 9-13
October 29, 2017, a year ago
It was 1998 the last time UK sludge party-ruiners Iron Monkey released an album, and even though it’s been 20 years and there’s someone new behind the mic, 9-13 sounds like it could have come out two years after their last. Guitarist Jim Rushby has taken over vocal duties this time around, as vocalist John Morrow died in 2002; Rushby does a great job of channelling all the anger and fear that Morrow did, which is exactly what sludge needs. As always, the highlights are the riffs, the band taking second- and third-album Eyehategod and rolling with it with much success, be it a slower, feedback-ridden take or a faster, more punk-rock approach.
Either way, it’s ragged and raw and does the trick: check out the main riff of the title track for a reminder of why this sort of metal is so great. “The Rope” finds the band using repetition with much impact, and closer “Moreland St. Hammervortex” (love the name) is a wonderful way to spend the final 10 minutes of the album: the song starts off with chaotic noise; goes into slow, open, intense sludge; falls apart into feedback and empty space; picks back up to an up-tempo sludge rocker… and on and on it goes until its wonderful conclusion, the song alone covering every aspect of sludge, and of Iron Monkey. It’s been a long time and the band has been through a lot, but 9-13 shows Iron Monkey hasn’t lost anything through all the struggles; on the contrary, the struggles have fuelled the passion behind these nine great songs.