IRON MONKEY — Spleen & Goad (review)

IRON MONKEY — Spleen & Goad album cover Album · 2024 · Sludge Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
The filthy as fuck sludge metal band from the ugly underbelly of the 90s that nobody in a million years thought would’ve arisen from the ashes due to the unfortunate passing of lead singer John Paul Morrow who passed away in 2002 leaving IRON MONKEY’s two 90s cult classics to stand on their own two feet but hey in the world of metal music one should expect the unexpected and even sacred cows sometimes find new a new form of life in an altered yet somewhat familiar form. While simmering in the sludgy underground, this 90s sludge metal band that followed in the footsteps of the Louisiana scene that found Acid Bath, Eyehategod and Grief forging a new ugly style of metal that chipped off strands of DNA from the world of stoner metal and doom metal and crafted a new ugly Frankenstein brother.

While not the first to engage in the rageful vitriol and distortion-fueled din that classic sludge metal rammed down your ear canals with impunity, IRON MONKEY was certainly one of the pinnacles of the hate fueled reverb-soaked sludgery that possibly caused Morrow’s death from choking on his own hate-filled vocal chords while screaming up a storm. Despite written off and left for dead, the MONKEY escaped captivity from whatever experimental lab facility locked them away and returned to the scene in 2017 with its comeback album “9-13” which found guitarist James David Luke Rushby (now simplified to simply Jim) accompanied by original guitarist Dean Paul James Berry (now truncated to Dean) who swapped out guitars for bass. With no viable replacement of the once great vocalist to be found, Jim simply stepped in and honed his own hateful bile spewing from his vocal chamber and called it good. With the addition of drummer Brigga, the MONKEY was back for the attack like Cesar planning an overthrow of humanity on The Planet of the Apes.

Following in the footsteps of the band’s 2017 comeback, SPLEEN & GOAD proves the resurrection was no one-off and although drummer Brigga has been replaced by Ze Big, this album that emerges seven years later very much sounds like “9-13” as IRON MONKEY left behind all those doom metal glacial moments of sustained feedback and oozing out effect of distortion of pain and focused more on the hardcore punk aspects that were in the band’s plans all along before the great implosion that left the MONKEY broken down and disbanded before a third album could ever emerge. Gone are all those smoke-filled stoner rock moments and also gone are the looming doomy passages that slink and slither like a serpent in the Garden of Eden. The new IRON MONKEY has the need for speed and that is exactly what it delivers with an adrenalized procession of downtuned sludge metal riffing sessions that offer a bit of boogie rock flamboyance to its simian swagger.

A modern day album with a retro throwback approach, SPLEEN & GOAD hosts nine tracks at 53 1/2 minutes and an incessant rampage through its battlefield stampede more focused on the quickened galloping pace of groove metal than the sludge on simmer of the past. The results vary as any veritable IRON MONKEY fan cherishes those classic moments that find the guitar sustain tweaking and freaking all over the place one of the band’s primary charms, lead vocalist Morrow’s unfathomable vocal rage excepted. The new IRON MONKEY in many ways sounds more like Amoebix or the 80s crust punk bands than it does its former self but then again the new IRON MONKEY is only half of the equation and any expectations of past endeavors should be firmly quashed. The new balls to the wall approach of IRON MONKEY 2.0 now finds as many albums under its belt as its original run but there’s little doubt this new rendition will ever eclipse the legendary status the original lineup has earned as one of 90s metal’s best kept secrets for so many decades.

The opening “Misanthropizer” pretty much sets the stage of quickened hardcore riffing frenzies with Rushby’s best Morrow imitation that comes close but delivers no cigar but then again taken on its own the new IRON MONKEY does not disappoint in its mostly Sabbath-free, stoner-free agenda either as the highly adrenalized agenda certainly offers a compelling filthy raw mix of primeval sludgery laced with the more rambunctious leanings of 90s alternative metal. The band retains an obnoxiousness that is guaranteed to piss off all but the true sludge fans out there and has lost none of the frenetic misanthropy as the album charges on like the band never left its sludge metal paradise and despite the mostly punk-fueled procession, occasional deviations do occur such as the rare Sabbath sounding track “The Gurges” charges forth and breaks up the monotony with angry stomps that would find Morrow’s harrowing approval. While i do wish the album was a bit more diverse in its approach, i cannot deny than i’m a sucker for this unbridled raging filth of a musical style and therefore soak it in like a sponge. Overall the classic IRON MONKEY is in no danger of being dethroned by the new but for anyone saying these guys never should’ve reunited misses the point of reviving classic sludge metal in a genre that seems to have gotten too progressive and experimental for its own good at times.
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Bosh66 wrote:
40 days ago
Good review. Still haven't got to this yet - you've bumped it up my list :-)

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