Iron Man – “Hail To The Riff” 2CD / 2LP (Argonauta Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Iron Man began as a Black Sabbath tribute band back in 1986, although soon evolving into an all-original act when guitarist Alfred Morris III continued writing from the large catalogue of riffs he had built and saved over the years. Over the course of 5 full length albums written over 3 decades, Iron Man have established themselves as a cult band playing original US doom along the lines of Pentagram, (early) Trouble and Saint Vitus. Furthermore, of the multitude of musicians who’ve graced their ranks, many have gone onto success, speaking bounds about Morris and what he has soldiered on to do as passion, even by himself. Indeed, had it not been for his tragic passing in 2018, Iron Man would have no doubt continued its ascendancy, but as such, this double live release recorded at the Castle of Doom Festival in Pagazzano, Italy, serves as a fitting testimonial to the will and music of Alfred Morris III. Featuring 13 classic doom anthems and one previously unreleased studio song, “Hail To The Riff” is more than just a title, but rather reflective of Morris as a musician, influenced by legendary classic rockers like Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and not in the least, Tony Iommi, whose sound and style is evident in Morris’ playing, along with a healthy dose of psychedelia and a touch of funky quirkiness taken from Budgie. Along with an all-star vocalist in ‘Screaming Mad’ Dee Calhoun (After Therapy, Dee Brian C./Alex Vanderzeeuw, Spiral Grave, ex-Disciples of Aggression, ex-Land of Doom, ex-Phantasm, ex-Vision, ex-Bullet Therapy, ex-Level, Dee Calhoun, Thee Iron Hand, ex-M Francis Fester), fast fingering bassist Louis Strachan (Spiral Grave, ex-Creepshow, ex-Life Beyond, ex-Wretched) serves as the perfect 4 string jamming partner for Morris, while Jason ‘Mot’ Waldmann (ex Spiral Grave) keeps up the beat – whatever the mood! Indeed, as Strachan deftly plucks his strings to add to the exploding fuzz from Morris, Calhoun’s abundant soul and powering screams set alight the mid-paced groove to ‘Run From The Light’, as it instantly hooks you into violent headbanging and air guitar playing – quite simply, it’s that addictive!!! Slowing it down to a classic doom crush on ‘As The Gods Have Spoken’, the bass and guitar meld into one massive fuzzball while unpredictably breaking into mini solos to add excitement to the energy of the song while Calhoun’s moving depth of voice make it all nothing short of epic. Ending in the singalong of ‘Black Night’, Calhoun unloads his pipes like a Southern rock singer from the 70s while screaming into the 80s like Beano Johnson as Strachan and Morris add some funk into the twist of dark riffs in building to the crowd chanting title chorus that the Pagazzano masses hold nothing back in. It may not be flash, nay spectacular to some, but this ancient vintage is the original doom inspired by Sabbath, and as such, makes the much-lamented passing of Alfred Morris III more like the end of an era.