Iron Monkey – “9-13” (Relapse Records)
Oh my gawd. The terror has returned. Back in the mid 90s, one of the most terrifying bands (both onstage and off) were spawned from middle England’s bleakest cities – and with a sound from hell. As the fearsome five some wrought havoc up and down the country leaving trashed venues, pissed off promoters but ultimately shocked audiences in awe of their musical intensity yet their down to earth friendliness, Iron Monkey soon had a condemning press on their back (apart from yours truly), while the underground couldn’t get enough. Whether it was the sick, down tuned sludge noise, or the late but great JP Morrow’s certified ugly ‘vocals’ but a self titled debut soon had them signed to the equally foreboding Earache Records for their brutish southern fried sophomore, along with artwork from enfant terrible artist Mike Diana (introduced by yours truly). As things looked up (and down for the rest of the world) Iron Monkey spread their slime across Europe, although not before losing founder guitarists Jim Rushby and Stu Watson along the way. Sadly the band would go the same path, eventually self combusting before the millennium. Even more tragically, JP Morrow passed away a coupla years later, aged just 28 years old. Forgotten by many much to their relief, the irony is that over the years the band developed a cult following and formed the impetus for this rejuvenated Iron Monkey, with none other than Jim Rushby (guitar / vocals) and Stu Watson (bass) and now joined by Scott Briggs (Aeons of Eclipse / Gorgy / Deaf Revival) on drums. When the rumors first circulated, history replayed itself with the trio once again dismissed (in some cases as imposters ha ha!) but to all worshipers at the temple of the Iron Monkey, this is the same hell-ish feedback drenched down tuned noise as it was back then – complete with even more ugly ‘vocals’ that JP would be proud of. Connoisseurs of the band would probably see “9-13” as somewhere between that foul debut and the more sophisticated “Our Problem” which is where this Monkey’s talent is best, and it works a treat here on the 9 visceral tracks spewed out in bile but with plenty of style. Concentrating on the god almighty power of the riff at its catchiest yet bludgeoningly brutish, the talent is in the finesse of how this trio have taken the winning qualities of the first band and concentrated them even more, along with subtle hooks and intelligent arrangements to create even more monstrous tracks like the bollocking yet rollicking ‘OmegaMangler’, the frenzied bestial riffola of ‘Doomsday Impulse Multiplier’ and the gargantuan 9 minute overload of ‘Moreland St. Hammervortex ‘. Prepare yourselves for the Monkey madness once more!