"A Different Game"

By Earthdog

The fact that it has been nearly 40 years between Iron Claw recordings means if you think this is going to be the same Iron Claw that was dishing out the doom-rock in the early 70's, you would have to be slightly retarded.

However, I was hoping that some of their earlier trademarks were to be retained. Sadly that hasn't happened at all as this is a very different Iron Claw and one that I must admit didn't impress me too much. I often visit the local bars to see local  bands playing traditional but very predictable bluesy hard-rock. Most of the bands I see are very good but offer nothing but stock-standard blues-rock workouts which effectively guarantee their place as a bar-room band forever. This new Iron Claw album has that same kind of vibe; nice playing, nice vibe about it but it is all so stock-standard.

'A Different Game' is the product of the band’s recent studio reunion, resulting in a collection of 13 blues rock tracks reminiscent of Nazareth but without any of the originality. The playing is focused and well-executed but the songs themselves offer no surprises and sound heavily recycled from other bands. Iron Claw were never really a doom band but they were heavy and dark; now that heaviness is more or less gone and the darkness has been replaced with a cleaner, melodic classic-rock sound. The album sounds live with very little in the way of post-production touch-ups but it does sound very good. New vocalist Gordon Brown has come in and fitted into the band so well that you would swear he has been in the band all along. The album opener promises a lot, titled 'What Love Left' it charges out of the speakers with some crunch and vigor but the problem is the album gets no better from here on. The good news is it doesn't get any worse either but the feeling that you have heard it all before a million times is always there. I grew up with the sounds of Deep Purple, Bad Company, Nazareth and Thin Lizzy and I still dig those bands but this sounds like a second-rate version of those acts and a predictable one at that.

When you sit through this entire album up to the epic ballad of 'Closing In' the feeling is it is all too little, too late. It has its moments though, 'The Traveler' is an infectious old-school rocker and tracks like 'My Way Down' and 'Angel Woman' at least tries to re-kindle the heavy, menacing vibe of their earlier work but largely the album is back to back, generic stuff. It is hard to hate this album but it is pretty easy to leave it on the CD shelf gathering dust too, there is not much incentive to listen and it reeks of out-dated classic-rock radio music, the kind that was great in the 70's but now sounds horribly tired........5/10