Old Iron- Lupus Metallorum Review
Review by Matt Scherer
Old Iron have been an important local fixture in Seattle’s vivid and diverse heavy music scene over the past several years, sporting some infamous local heavy hitters including guitarist Jesse Roberts (Sandrider, The Ruby Doe), bassist Jerad Shealey, and drummer Trent McIntyre (X Suns). The band, which self-released its first album Cordyceps in 2014, is now prepared to release a second slab of molten metal on an unsuspecting populace titled Lupus Metallorum on August 18th 2017 via prolific and diverse local label Good to Die Records.
“Friday Glendale” leads the album off in style, ominously building in intensity before Jesse Roberts’ demonic howl bursts forth into the listeners eardrums unleashing total hell. The track’s Neurosis-style post-metal heaviness gives way to some surprisingly melodic passages and really sets the tone for the whole album. “Gravewax” follows and, as the first track released off the album, could be considered the “hit” of the album. Showcasing a faster tempo than the previous track, “Gravewax” thunders with the sort of massive riffs and hammering drum work that brings to mind San Francisco’s sludge duo Black Cobra. “Maelstrom of the Black Tempest” brings together dizzying guitar work and galloping tempos reminiscent of Leviathan-era Mastodon, while “Bogwitch” begins with an Earth-like melancholic dirge before giving way to a full-on NOLA inspired swamp metal stomp.
After a brief interlude that splits the album in half, the title track “Lupus Metallorum” showcases what might be the heaviest song on the whole album. The track’s steady, near-industrial metal pace rumbles and smashes all in its path like a tank rolling across a field of human skulls. “Bloody Angles” picks the pace up a bit and is definitely the most head-bangable track on the album, showcasing Roberts’ technical prowess with a kick-ass guitar solo that would make Matt Pike grin.
“Valerian” veers back into calmer post-metal waters, a welcome reprieve after the intensity of the previous two tracks, while “Nightmare Tooth” is a heavy-as-hell return to form with some filthy Crowbar-style sludge. The album’s final track “Banisteriopsis Caapi”, perhaps the most unique song on Lupus Metallorum, has a sprawling and dark psychedelic feel which steadily builds into an epic climax before fading into the distance. The track, which is named after a South American plant with psychoactive properties also known as ayahuasca or yagé, was no doubt inspired by Roberts’ own experiences with the plant itself and feels like miniature spirit journey on its own.
Lupus Metallorum is a dense and tightly packed listen, but it never overwhelms the listener. The sheer number of metal musical styles on display here is impressive, and in the hands of a lesser band could have come across as a big mess, but with Old Iron, no tempo shift or genre splice ever feels tacked on or poorly executed. Each song has seamless feel that blends into the fabric of the entire album, creating a true experience. Through it all is Roberts’ throat-shredding roar, his voice acting as the thread on this majestic and bloody quilt.
Given the immense progress shown on Lupus Metallorum, it’s not hard to envision Old Iron becoming the standard bearers of Seattle’s heavy music scene. Good to Die has a real gem on their hands here and it adds to what has already been a stellar year of releases for the local label.
Be sure not to miss out on the album release show at the Black Lodge on Saturday August 12th with Maximum Mad, Sashay, and Florida Man. Event details here or pre-order the album online at the Good to Die webstore here.