"Att Halla Dig Over" EP

By Earthdog

You know, there are very few bands in this world that you can totally depend on to release something great every time; even the best bands can make mistakes and often do. However, there are exceptions, there are those bands that can do no wrong, they just don't have it in them. The doom metal institution known as Iron Man are one of those bands. Since forming in 1988, the band has never been too consistent with releasing albums regularly but they are now on the greatest roll of their long career. A full length album and now two excellent EP's in around 3 years is their busiest run of releases since they released three full length albums from 1993 to 1999 but more importantly, the band is at their peak musically. Even though it has already been almost 3 years since their last full-length was released, Iron Man are one of the rare acts that can satisfy with just a 17 minute EP like this one titled 'Att Halla Dig Over'.

The sound and style of the band is still rooted in Maryland doom and Black Sabbathesque doom riffing and melodies but the songwriting is better than ever while the performance of these pieces is second to none. Without a doubt the biggest plus of the band's career has been the addition of Screaming Mad Dee on vocals because he really has given the band an exciting presence and this EP is without a doubt the finest vocal performance of his career. The man has a timeless, classic metal approach to singing which is something you don't hear much in doom metal at all these days. Apart from this guy, Robert Lowe and a few others, vocals of this standard are almost impossible to find within the doom scene. The scream, the way Screaming Mad Dee delivers the words with such classic heavy metal passion is so charismatic and addictive to the ear, it sends a chill up the spine.

But onto the songs and this EP has four mammoth slabs of traditional doom metal starting with 'Quicksand.' The signature sound and style of Al Morris is immediately satisfying as he unleashes fuzzy sabbathian riffing, gorgeous hook-laden grooves and leads that are full of energy and passion. Iron Man combine 70's heavy rock riffage, early 80's classic metal and a modern trad-doom styles into a seamless package of irresistibly infectious metal. The leads are the freaked-out psychedelic kind that have a slight Jimi Hendrix vibe about them while the vocals are simply massive, mountain-sized vocal gymnastics. Screaming Mad Dee really pushes his vocal chords on this release but it still sounds like it is totally under his control at all times. The confidence that the musicians show on this EP is more than evident as it showcases the sound of a band at its peak.

If the opening track doesn't hook you in, the second track 'Crucified' will. This is Iron Man at their heaviest. It is hard to say if this is the heaviest song the band has ever written but it would have to be close. The guitar sound alone on this track is enough to have the listener rolling around on the floor in delight as Al unloads some gorgeous Iommi-ism's. What makes this so heavy is the over-powering distorted guitar sound coupled with more throat-tearing vocals from Dee. I also have to mention some exquisite bass-lines from bassist Louis Strachan who also seems to have stepped-up a notch in his playing or is it the band is simply on-fire right now? I can't tell what it is but something about this track tells me the band are loving doing what they do more than ever before and it shows up in these stunning grooves.

On the third track, the EP takes a slight detour with a tune called 'Suffer The Children.' This track to me at least sounds like a psychedelic re-working of Black Sabbath's "The Wizard" mixed with Sabbath balladry a-la 'Planet Caravan.' The track is absolutely beautiful in the way it has been arranged and the addition of Whitley Roca delivering angelic female vocals is just the icing on the cake for what is a monumental track. As with most of Iron Man's material, it all sounds familiar but that doesn't matter when the music is just this good. The EP ends on 'On the Mountain' which is given a make-over, not that it really needed it but it sounds amazing here. The track originally appeared on the 'Generation Void' album released in 1999. There is not much you can say about a tune as "classic" as this one but this is one remake that was worth re-doing even if it was just for the fun of it. It has more monster guitar work and no offense to former vocalist Dan Michalak but Screaming Mad Dee has you beat with this version.

Of course, I could whine about how it is too short and I wish it was a full-length album and so on but this is 17 minutes that can be put on repeat time and time again. The EP is a melting pot of the old Iron Man and the new fresh version of the band and it is flawless. Check this out and you will hear a band at their absolute peak proving once again that Iron Man are one of the benchmarks for other traditional doom metal bands to follow and worship.....10/10.