IO – “Fire” (Argonauta Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Aptly named after one of Jupiter’s moons whose tempestuous climate is characterised by extreme volcanic activity, this awesomely powerful Italian doom sludge trio weigh in with an equally colossal sound on this awesome debut. With a droning sound drenched in reverb and feedback, IO don’t hold back on the immensity of their sound as they hew out gargantuan down tuned riffs matched by earthquake shaking bass and mammoth drums from the pounding Valeria who can clearly out muscle Bigfoot! Best of all, the vocals are a mix of screamo and roars, all superbly arranged to max out the intensity and atmosphere on the 4 lengthy tracks making this crushing full length release. Opening with ‘Third Eye’, it’s pretty clear that the excellent musicianship and composing prowess of the trio is at the highest level as the catchy down tuned riffs immediately hook you as the gravity well of rumbling bass draws you in with the sound of exquisite screamo and guttural roars, while the drums don’t just smash in, but equally show off some stylish percussive beats – honestly, it’s that good! Confidently mixing in ambiance when it suits them, ‘Fire Walks With Us’ opens to a quiet, mysterious psych / space sound intro before adding in the amp energy to keep it thick ‘n’ sludgy while not losing sight of its droning heavy stoner groove as the screamo is unleashed like a haunting banshee awoken. Far more angry though, is ‘Loki Patera’ with its huge waves of drone mixed with screamo and guttural roars echoing like some dark opera taking place on Io’s surface of erupting volcanoes and massive gas clouds, yet with another excellent ambient mid song piece really allowing the thick riffs to drone into your soul before some truly lengthy screams tear into it as the song rocks off to another catchy sludge groove of suitably epic proportions. As if the other 3 tracks were mere hints of what was to come, “Fire” closes this mesmerising release with the 16 minute ‘Poseidon (In Lava Sea)’, which isn’t some Italian food dish but rather a gargantuan finale opening serenely enough with melancholic guitars and sound effects, until some truly depressive riffs reverb into your soul touched off by feedback wails along with hollow echoing roars before the song picks up towards the end in a rolling groove with plenty of smashing cymbals – unbelievable. You’ve heard it from Iron Monkey, High On Fire and Conan….now prepare for the might of IO.