After an absence of almost two decades, legendary UK sludgers Iron Monkey have returned with a new album – 48 minutes of pissed off distortion and angry diatribes.
Iron Monkey were a band that took the Eyehategod sludge template and injected it with their own brand of UK pessimism and nihilism, making it their own and producing some extremely enjoyable music in the process. On 9-13 they have focused and refined this approach, developing their sound so that they’re still recognisable as the band they were, but sees them moving further into the realms of hate-fuelled individuality than ever before.
Due to the death of the band’s original, and quite distinctive, singer, a large focus of Iron Monkey’s comeback is likely to be on the album’s vocals. Let me just say that I think the band have done very well in this regard. The new vocals are similar enough in style to the old ones so that there’s a continuation of legacy, but individualistic and different enough to avoid accusations of trying to just replace the old vocals with more of the same. Essentially, I can easily imagine the new singer doing the band’s old songs justice in the live environment, while still putting his own spin on the new songs with his acerbic presence.
The same can be said of the band’s new music as a whole in many respects; it’s stylistically familiar enough to be a logical progression from 1998’s Our Problem, but it’s still a progression, and 9-13 cleverly acknowledges its debt to history while still having more than enough to say in its own right to justify its own existence.
Overall this is probably less instantly memorable than some of their previous work, despite actually being more energetic and punk-influenced. However, there seems to be a bit more substance and weight in this album that comes out in different ways; 9-13 has a lot of replay value.
The songs are heavy, nasty, and full of raging bile. 9-13 is a worthy addition to the band’s sludge metal legacy, and one that I look forward to blaring out at full volume for a long time to come.