In case you missed it, there’s been a big 90’s sludge revival of late. Some of the guys in Grief are playing shows as Come to Grief, Cavity is reuniting for Days of Darkness, and now Iron Monkey returns with their first album in almost 20 years. Not that I’m complaining—I’d take any of these outfits over a buncha bearded bros from Georgia any day!
While they originally employed a dual guitar attack, Iron Monkey is now a three-piece. And one of those guitarists has moved to bass, while the other has taken on vocal duties after the passing of frontman J.P. Morrow. Also, drummer Justin Greaves has moved on to more experimental things (Crippled Black Phoenix), so there’s a new guy behind the kit. But hey, two outta five ain’t bad?
But while not a full reunion on paper, this is certainly a reunion in spirit, right from the word “Go.” “Crown of Electrodes” begins with a crusty stomp, but it soon descends into a set of downtuned grooves that would make Eyehategod proud—the vocals are very much in the vein of Mike IX as well, but just a little more guttural, ending in a fit of deranged laughter. “OmegaMangler” starts off in similar groovy fashion, sounding straight outta NOLA with a bit of Bay Area thrown in for good measure. The riff that kicks in around the two-minute mark would not sound outta place on a slower High on Fire tune!
The title track is right up there with any of the better Weedeater numbers, with a similar sinister spit ‘n vinegar vibe, and a kickass breakdown that begins about 1:40 in. “Destroyer” adopts a more up-tempo approach that’s equal parts Discharge and Eyehategod, while the three-and-a-half-minute “Mortarhex” borders on death ‘n roll territory. (Ditto “Doomsday Impulse Multiplier.”) “Toadcrucifer” combines an industrial-rock verse with a punk-rock chorus, falling a little flat on the former, although things do get sludgier for the final minute or so.
If you like a bit of crust with your sludge, this is a pretty good listen, although I think this band sounds best when they play slow.