Friday Full-Length: Iron Monkey, Iron Monkey

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

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.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Tags: , , , , ,

Bismuth and Undersmile Split Available for Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

As far as I’m concerned, this one gets a twofold fucking a: It exists and you can hear it now. Disgruntled sludgers Bismuth and drone-minded nightmare-conjurers Undersmile have partnered, each with a vinyl side of their own brand of sonic madness. Put some Tony Roberts art on it, press it to tape and LP, and you’re good to go. Tartarus Records has the beast available for preorder and that’s great, but what’s even better is being able to listen to its low end drag before you make your purchase.

This is the first I’m hearing of Bismuth and it’s pretty clear from “Collapse” that I need to go back and check out their 2012 Eternal Marshes demo. For Undersmile, they follow-up the split with their acoustic alter ego, Coma Wall, with a 23-minute behemoth of a track as tonally huge as it is melodically disturbed. It’s not easy listening, but I dig the challenge.

Preorder link, Tony Roberts artwork and the standard Bandcamp player follow, hot off of the PR wire:

TAR023 Bismuth / Undersmile split

Amp worship meets agonizing doom. Finally a split release between two of UK’s heavyweights in female fronted doom and sludge. Bismuth from Nottingham offer Collapse, a worthy follow-up to the Eternal Marshes demo tape, released last year. More bleak drone landscapes and torturous vocals by Tanya. Undersmile from Witney chose for an atmospheric approach on their side of the split and came up with Titanaboa; a dark, nightmarish beast of a track. Truly their best offering so far. The artwork was made by the amazing Tony Roberts, which fits perfectly with both bands.

FFO: Khanate, Corrupted, Bell Witch, Ensorcelor.

The LP is a co-release between Graanrepubliek Records, Tartarus Records and At War With False Noise

Pressing info:

100 gold cassettes
100 red/black vinyl (mailorder only)
200 black vinyl

Preorder the cassette, vinyl & special bundles here:

Bismuth/Undersmile, Split LP (2013)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On the Radar: Peacemaker

Posted in On the Radar on January 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Burly-as-fuck British foursome Peacemaker announce their coming with the song “The Siberian Problem.” The track is taken from their already-recorded debut and in just over four minutes, manages to give a pretty solid idea of what they’re all about, which seems to be stomping your ass with a foot made out of sludge-riffed metal. Some might recognize vocalist Al Osta from his role as the post-Ben Ward frontman of Ravens Creed, and backed here by gang shouts of “blood, and, soil!” he’s in solid and throaty form, if a little high in the mix.

Nonetheless, being someone who considers himself as having roots more in extreme metal than not, I was stoked to see Peacemaker shares a similar experience, culling together Sam Taylor and Rich Maw of the death metal outfit Infliction with Osta and bassist Al Lawson, both of Satanic Fatwa. “The Siberian Problem” is doomed by definition and by design, but there’s an intensity behind its groove that one could probably trace back to deathly dealings if one had time before the punch of the song landed. Which one doesn’t. Why do I keep saying “one?”

Whatever. Thanks to Peacemaker for getting in touch and sharing their issues with the Russian wilderness. If you want to check them out, do so at their Bandcamp or their Thee Facebooks, and feel free to stream “The Siberian Problem” below, courtesy of the former:

Tags: , , ,