Iron Void – IV Review

U.K. old school doomers, Iron Void have been kicking around in one form or another since 1998. Their style is a no-nonsense mash-up of classic 70s and 80s doom sounds and trends with all the expected names referenced. There’s a core of Black Sabbath worship with nods to Pentagram and Saint Vitus accounted for. There’s also a mix of biker and epic doom influences dotting the landscape for extra punch. On their smartly-titled fourth album, this well-traveled three-piece demonstrate that they posses the knowledge and ability to deliver the doom thrills when their songwriting holds up. I didn’t think it did that especially well on 2018s Excalibur opus, so I took on IV hoping for a doom makeover of sorts. I can report that IV is to my ears at least a more successful and consistent dose of ancient doom sounds and there are a few tracks here that impress my aged brain. There are still some nagging issues that haunt the Iron Void foundation, however.

Things begin well with an endearingly retro instrumental opener that sets the mood well for things to come. First proper cut “Grave Dance” is an upbeat, no-frills doom rocker with biker tendencies and it works in a very simplistic and easy-to-process way. It won’t be a revelation to anyone but it’s a solid, entertaining tune. There are several other selections in this same space that work a charm like “Living on the Earth” where simple droning riffs and Ozzy-esque vocals conspire to hypnotic effect. “Blind Dead” reminds me of the Phil Swanson projects like Seamount and Briton Rites in its stripped-down, rudimentary structure and delivery, and “Lords of the Wasteland” is so very Saint Vitus-y I can almost hear Wino singing it.

With the good comes some bad, however. “Pandora’s Box” sounds like 80s-era KISS trying to write biker doom and the results are not good. The Gene Simmons-style vocals are bad and the whole thing feels undercooked and overworked. “Slave One” also suffers from some awkward writing and structuring, trying to sound hard and tough like something Orange Goblin would do, but ending up stilted and hammy. Their core sound works well but the side quests into rougher territory just don’t ring true. Sound-wise the album has a retro appeal and feels like something from the early 80s. The guitar tone is warm and engaging and the drums have a satisfying pop. At 44-plus minutes, IV is a fairly easy spin with a few rough patches breaking up the flow.

The guitar work by Steve Wilson is the main draw as is expected with a doom album. He crafts a solid collection of Sabbath-y leads with some bounce, swagger and crunch, and though he never goes very heavy with his playing, he nails the classic doom moods. Both he and bassist Jonathan Seale provide vocals and therein lies part of the problem. Whereas one has the classic doom voice sitting between Ozzy and Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling, the other has a ragged shout/bellow. One works well, the other less so. The bigger issue however is the inconsistent writing. At their best, Iron Void can hit that good to sometimes very good spectrum, but when things falter, they get pretty janky. This was an issue on Excalibur and it’s an issue here, though thankfully less so.

Iron Void will never be a doom go-to for me, but they are can deliver some good moments when things all come together. They do so here more often than not and I enjoyed my time with IV more than I expected I would. If they can smooth out the writing a bit more, they could rise up the ladder a rung or two. Ultimately though, their straightforward, no bells or whistles doom style will always remain very basic and workmanlike. That’s not a bad thing though.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Shadow Kingdom
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: January 27th, 2023

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