Not gonna lie, these Swedes sucked me in with their bizarre band name. I’m not sure if there was actually a movie in which The Man in the Iron Mask leads a sedan-driving rat gang…but a quick Google search strictly points to Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus. I would not be surprised if they were called something else on their next album; after all, there’s a reason why Alterbeast is no longer known as Gary Busey Amber Alert. 😉
That said, these dudes definitely don’t play technical death metal. Think post-rock mixed with heavy psych, which makes the Jeremy Irons connection all the more perplexing. Spirit Knife starts off with “Fog by the Steep,” which begins with some bluesy guitar noodling before the band comes in with a wallop somewhat akin to latter-day Neurosis—except that Scott Kelly never hit these high notes! But they take a psychedelic detour towards the end of the tune, which continues onto subsequent tracks.
“Sworn Collision” belies its name by being a softer ballad, with some slowly ringing riffs meandering beneath somewhat clean vocals. Likewise, “Once Levitated” doesn’t make much noise; it’s a laid-back bluesy number that seems somewhat akin to Dead Meadow jamming on Classics IV (first time you’ll see that name in a review here, I’m sure). But “Clang” brings back the rock with a driving, organ-driven number that has shades of Rush and Led Zep without quite sounding like either. I dunno man, maybe it’s just the vocals…
Alas, while this album does have its heavier moments, I think I expected something with Jeremy Irons’ name on it to be a bit more bad ass.