By Dr. Abner Mality

Along with Eyehategod and Crowbar, England’s Iron Monkey pretty much wrote the book on modern sludge metal. Tragedy struck them at the height of their popularity when vocalist J.P. Morrow died in 1999. That put a lid on Iron Monkey for close to 20 years, but the metal primates have staged a return with “9-13”.

A record like this has a LOT to live up to and faces an uphill climb to be accepted on the same level as the band’s classic output. The verdict? This is one comeback that is TOTALLY justified and which lives up to past achievements magnificently. “9-13” is a never ending riff-fest full of raging downtuned sludge and volcanic anger. In the years since Iron Monkey’s last effort, sludge metal has taken off and bands have come out of the woodwork with such frequency as to make the genre trite. These guys show how it should be done. “Crown of Electrodes” is a brass-knuckled punch to the jaw delivered with atomic force…incredibly catchy riffing and mush-mouthed, garbled screams from new vocalist “J”. The thing that’s best about this album is how much it swings…there’s always a grooving forward momentum to the songs that grabs you by the scruff of your neck and shakes you. It’s not real fast but it’s also not super slow. It slams! Tracks like “Omega Mangler” and “Doomsday Impulse Multiplier” are thermonuclear riff generators that just don’t quit.

There are slower, more horrid moments like “Toad Crucifier…R.I.P.P.E.R.” and the almost ten minute “Moreland St. Hammervortex” but these also just ooze forward with unstoppable momentum.  J’s  unintelligible puking screams do get monotonous on occasion….”The Rope” doesn’t seem to have a single word other than “the rope” that you can understand….but that’s part of what makes Iron Monkey so hateful. Is J a worthy replacement for J.P. Morrow? I think he is, but you have to judge for yourself.

This is one hell of a brutal and compelling piece of work. I think Iron Monkey have made one of the best comebacks I’ve heard in a long time!