By Gruesome Greg
After reissuing their debut album Black Night, Shadow Kingdom now brings us a new pressing of The Passage, the stellar sophomore album from Maryland doomsters Iron Man. Album number two was a huge step forward for the trad doom outfit, as it saw the welcoming of new singer Dan Michalak into the fold, along with future Spirit Caravan/Pentagram drummer Gary Isom. Michalak soars on several numbers with a voice that’s somewhere between Dickinson and Dio—with a dash of Ozzy thrown in for good measure—throughout the 44 minutes of up-tempo doom on this album.
While Sabbath is obviously a huge influence, Iron Man doesn’t really play slow here. Picture a grittier, rawer Heaven and Hell as opposed to the first four, with guitar wizard Al Morris dialed into the legendary Iommi sound and appearing on the iconic album cover. That said, epic album-closer “End of the World,”was perhaps the closest thing to a Sabbath anthem you’d find in 1994, and still sounds just as crushing 17 years later.
The reissue comes on an enhanced CD that includes a promo video of “Iron Warrior,” and is packaged with a DVD containing a live performance from 1999 (with a completely different rhythm section, mind you) as well as a four-song set of Al jamming some Sabbath tunes with a who’s who of the Maryland doom scene (namely, ex-Iron Men Rob Levey, Larry Brown and Ronnie Kalimon, also of Internal Void and Unorthodox, as well as Joe Hasselvander, ex-Pentragram, and that Johnny Wretched guy who played guitar on Pentagram’s 2010 Tour From Hell.) A nice bonus feature for anyone who owned the original Hellhound release from back in the day, or the import Leaf Hound reissue, for that matter.