Iron Man’s Black Night Lives Again

If the elder’s fables are true, and there really is a cult of true doom, then I can’t help but feel that somewhere in the initiation process is Black Night, the 1992 debut offering from Maryland legends Iron Man. Among the most sought-after of the Hellhound Records catalog, it’s an album whose legacy has only grown with time. I don’t know if it’s a rite of passage or some kind of challenge to would-be cult inductees or what. Maybe you have to air guitar all of Al Morris III’s riffs while on fire or something. That would be cool in a very Beavis and Butt-Head kind of way.

Shadow Kingdom Records, whose reissue kung fu is like Bruce Lee in fast forward, capped off 2009 by re-releasing this rare doom gem, capturing the Iron Man lineup of Morris, Larry Brown (bass), Ron Kalimon (drums) and Rob Levey (vocals; also the man behind the Stoner Hands of Doom series of festivals) in their first incarnation after leaving behind their Black Sabbath cover band roots and trotting out their premiere batch of original material. With cuts like “Life After Death,” “Black Night,” “A Child’s Future” and classic album opener “Choices,” we can only be glad 18 years later that they did.

If traditional doom exists as a genre, albums like Black Night are the reason why. Morris’ riffs are rightly heralded as among the greatest ever to come from the Maryland scene, and in 1992, the sound was fresh and entirely antithetical to what was happening in mainstream hard rock and metal. Put into the context of its era, it is a record that captures the very essence of what being underground is all about. You’re not in it because of money, or women or to get on tv. You’re in it because you love it and there’s nothing else you’d ever want to do.

Given an appropriate remastering job and this new life on Shadow Kingdom (which also released Iron Man’s latest studio album, I Have Returned last year and have the band’s 1994 outing, The Passage, next on deck), Black Night can at last receive the reverence it has long deserved. An album loved by few, it has nonetheless had a significant impact on the direction of the doom metal that has come after it, and with the scarcity of the original Hellhound version, I for one have been dying to get my hands on a copy of it one way or another. If this is going to be the way into the cult, sign me up.

Iron Man on MySpace

Shadow Kingdom Records

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