Iron Monkey, Iron Monkey (1997)
One could look at any number of sludge or sludge metal acts coming out of the UK these days and point to the continued impact of the relatively short tenure of Nottingham’s Iron Monkey. The dual-guitar deconstructionists issued two full-lengths in their time — 1997’s Iron Monkey and 1998’s Our Problem — through Earache and hooked up with Frank Kozik‘s Man’s Ruin Records for the We’ve Learned Nothing EP, also released as a split with Church of Misery in 1999. They split up that same year, and in 2002, the live album Ruined by Idiots: Live and Unleashed surfaced, compiling material from shows between 1995 and 1999 in memory of vocalist Johnny Morrow, who died of heart failure in June 2002. By the time they were done, they’d traded out both guitarists who appear on the self-titled, Jim Rushby and Steven Watson (Ravens Creed) for Dean Berry (ex-Capricorns) and Stuart O’Hara (ex-Acrimony, now Sigiriya), which left Morrow, bassist Doug Dalziel and drummer Justin Greaves as founding members. Dalziel would go on to play in The Dukes of Nothing with Berry and O’Hara, while Greaves did time in Electric Wizard and Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine, among others, before founding Crippled Black Phoenix, with whom he remains to this day.
But if Iron Monkey‘s legacy has tentacled its way into a sort of varied pedigree, the music on the self-titled is almost entirely more singular in its purpose. Topped with Morrow‘s uniform throat-ripping rasp, it is a more active, upbeat thrust than, say Grief‘s Come to Grief, released a few years earlier in 1994, but similar in its attitude and consuming fuckall. From the crawling “Fink Dial” through the chaos-minded mega-chug of “666 Pack” — just in case you doubted a punker lineage — Iron Monkey remain as crusty as Bongzilla but uniformly pissed off. Their tones were thicker and their approach more refined than Buzzov*en — for whom being stripped down meant peeling flesh from bone — but they were perhaps even more vicious. You felt every single second of the self-titled. It’s still not an easy record to get through. It remains more geared toward destruction than a good time.
And disaffection. Woof. “Web of Piss.” “Big Loader.” The lurching “Shrimp Fist.” These songs would be anthems if everyone who ever said “fuck it” to life had any interest in picking a rallying cry. The above version of Iron Monkey includes a bonus track cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Cornucopia” from Earache‘s 1997 Masters of Misery tribute CD, which also included the likes of Sleep, Godflesh and Cathedral — it’s a good one if you can find it. There have been a few reissues of the album over the years, 1999, 2012 on vinyl, a 2009 boxed set with Our Problem (review here), etc., so it’s not exactly a lost classic, but at the same time, the better part of two decades later, it still feels like Iron Monkey are underappreciated for just how furious they actually were.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
Not exactly disingenuous, but in some ways I feel like closing out the week with Iron Monkey is at very least in opposition to my current mood. I’ll spare you the effusiveness and just break it down to a list of thanks:
THANK YOU to the nearly 200 people who’ve contributed so far to the 2015 Readers Poll.
THANK YOU to those who’ve placed the 30-plus orders for The Obelisk merch, hoodies and t-shirts. That response is more than I could’ve dreamed of. It’s on sale till next Friday, so if you want to get in on it, please do so.
THANK YOU to everyone who’s as psyched as I am for the Obelisk All-Dayer next August at the Saint Vitus Bar. I’ve got one open slot left in the lineup and will start making announcements early next year.
THANK YOU to everybody who has shared a link, left a comment, retweeted, etc., the lists and other posts this week. It’s been hugely appreciated.
THANK YOU to The Patient Mrs. for continuing to take care of me as my ankle heals up.
And THANK YOU to Kings Destroy for the invitation to join them on their Australian tour with Radio Moscow in February, which I’m going to make every effort to do.
It’s been a wild week and I feel like this is really just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re reading this, thank you.
Next week, maybe we start off with the year-end podcast? Seems reasonable, right? Maybe I’ll shoot for putting that together on Sunday. I’m going to try to get a writeup done for the Borracho/Geezer split, which I’m sure is long-since sold out by now, and I have a stack of tapes that I’d love to get through before the month ends. Working on it. Also look out for the Top 20 Debuts of 2016 and if I have time, a revisit of that massive 2015 Most Anticipated List that went up in January.
Gonna start on the Quarterly Review as well, because it occurs to me that the weekend before it starts –when I would be writing it — is Xmas. Whoops. Maybe we’ll push that one back to the start of next month? We’ll see how it goes.
Again, thank you all so much for the support, for reading and hopefully digging what goes on in this space. Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.