R.I.P. “Iron” Alfred Morris III, 1957-2018

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

iron man (photo by JJ Koczan)

Devastating news out of a Maryland doom community already reeling this afternoon. The passing of Iron Man founder, songwriter and guitarist “Iron” Alfred Morris III has been confirmed by the band:

It is with profound and immeasurable sadness that we let you know that Alfred Morris III passed away this morning. There are no other words at this time.

Morris, who would have turned 61 on March 9, had been dealing with declining health effects from an ongoing battle with diabetes over the last several years, and reportedly had an extended hospital stay in 2017 following the amputation of his left leg. While it is unknown as of this writing if this directly contributed to his death, Morris’ issues had been a major contributing factor to a stretch of inactivity on the part of the band following the release of their last full-length, South of the Earth (review here), in 2013.

Issued by respected UK purveyor Rise Above Records, that album represented a pinnacle for the long-running and influential Maryland doom outfit. With Morris’ riffs and solos ever at the center of their approach, Iron Man — founded as a Black Sabbath tribute band following Morris’ time in proto-doomers Force — issued their first demo 30 years ago in 1988 and would follow it in the subsequent years with four LPs prior to their final one: 1993’s Black Night (discussed herereissue review here), 1994’s The Passage (discussed here; reissue review here), 1999’s Generation Void (reissue review here) and 2009’s comeback outing, I Have Returned (review here), as well as a slew of EPs and other limited offerings along the way.

In addition to bringing Iron Man to a new level of prestige in terms of its release, South of the Earth also gave the band their first opportunity to play internationally, at Rise Above’s 25th anniversary celebration in London in December 2013. The band continued to make regular appearances thereafter at Maryland Doom Fest and other regional events, but would never embark on wider touring in support of the album, and word of a follow-up through Rise Above or any other label never materialized.

What the loss of a figure of Morris’ status means to the Maryland doom community can hardly be overstated. One of the longest and most loyal practitioners of the Chesapeake region’s particular brand of downtrodden riffing, in his tone and construction, Morris has served for decades as a blueprint for others to follow. To watch his smooth-grooving presence on stage and bask in the warmth of his guitar tone was to know a singular joy of traditional doom in its finest Sabbathian spirit.

On behalf of myself and this site, I wish condolences to the family, friends, current and former bandmates and fans of Alfred Morris III. He brought something special to Maryland doom that, to put it simply, will never be replaced and will be deeply missed.

“Iron” Al Morris. 1957-2018. The Riff.

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Iron Man Finish Work on New Album South of the Earth

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

The forthcoming South of the Earth will be the first Iron Man album in four years — nothing compared to the decade between Generation Void (1999) and I Have Returned (2009; review here) — and the first with “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun as the frontman, and though a handful of EPs as the band ironed out their approach over the last couple years have given some hint of what to expect (i.e., doom), South of the Earth still feels like an event. Release date still to come.

While we wait on that, the album art and finished tracklisting for South of the Earth have been made public, and you can find them below along with a preview of the record:

Maryland doom legends Iron Man are happy to announce completion of their fifth full-length album, “South of the Earth.”

Recording and mixing took place at Hudson Street Sound in Annapolis, Maryland with producer/engineer Frank Marchand III. This was Iron Man’s second project with Marchand, who was also at the controls for the band’s 2009 album “I Have Returned.” “South of the Earth” was mastered at Bias Studios in Springfield, Virginia.

Digital distribution of “South of the Earth” will be handled by MusicLive365/Sony. The album’s physical distributor will be announced soon.

The track listing for “South of the Earth,” which is set for a summer release, is as follows:

South of the Earth
Hail to the Haze
A Whore in Confession
The Worst and Longest Day
Ariel Changed the Sky
IISOEO (The Day of the Beast)
Half-Face/Thy Brother’s Keeper (Dunwich pt. 2)
In the Velvet Darkness
The Ballad of Ray Garraty

Iron Man “South of the Earth” personnel:
Alfred Morris III – guitars, backing vocals
Screaming Mad Dee – voice, piano, keyboards
Louis Strachan – bass, backing vocals
Mot Waldmann – drums, percussion

Iron Man, South of the Earth Preview

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Visual Evidence: Here are Four Pictures of Al Morris from Iron Man Being Awesome

Posted in Visual Evidence on September 13th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

I guess the title says it all — at least most of it — but the fact is that it’s been two weeks since Stoner Hands of Doom XII got underway at the El ‘n’ Gee in New London, Connecticut, and I can’t get over how killer Iron Man was closing out the fest on Sunday night. Not only were they awesome, because a lot of bands were awesome over the course of the weekend (trust me, I saw them all), but they were statesmen about it.

They asked nothing more than the attention of the crowd as they doomed out, and in return, they delivered a righteous set of classic, under-appreciated underground metal. They’ll probably never get their due, but dammit, they destroyed at that show, and did it as humbly as you might pump a tank of gas.

Just because I was reliving the moment, here are four shots of guitarist “Iron” Alfred Morris III kicking ass and taking names.

For me, it’s all about that last one. That’s what doom looks like. Here’s a guy who’s been in this band for nearly 25 years, and what’s he doing? He’s got his head down and he’s plowing into a riff. He’s doing it because he loves it, and it doesn’t matter what the trend is or who’s there to see him. He’d be doing the same anyway. Zero bullshit.

Fucking right doom on.

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