The five piece Grind influenced Hardcore band from Inland Empire California that is Iron Curtain are no strangers to Metal Noise. In anticipation of this 7 track full length album we took a moment to review their now 2 year old predecessor “The Road”, a 5 track EP that is a fine piece of work in its own right. Featuring in their ranks former members of Runamuk and Still Alive, Iron Curtain have served up an EP, an album in 2015’s “Gulag” and of all things a 4-way 2 tracks a piece split with Vatican, Funerals and Sanction since their inception in 2013.
The album starts off with “A Moth to Flame”, which is about as far from any Metallica cover as it’s possible to get. Instead it’s a thunderous, caustic breakdown fest from the very start. The acidic sludge features an anti-religious lyrical theme that is very much the order of the day in certain circles. In this case, given the closing distorted speech sample, it seems to be a pointer to the wrongs of some evil priests. That short, powerful shock makes way for the opening feedback of “Blame” and some dark sludgy riffs that set the tone before it all kicks off. Some introspective lyrics hit like a gut punch and with this chorus free track, musically the band have evolved into a heavier version of Left Behind. “The Devil You Don’t” is the first of a pair of tracks to feature guest appearances, this time out Blake Foard of Crow Killer. Skipping the intro, the vocals appear within a few seconds of some anvil heavy hardcore sludge riffs and blast beats that kick up the first real Grindcore feel of the album. What they do well is spread that grind sound out between atmospheric drawn out riffage so it acts like a slap in the face. An almost inaudible sample of background chatter is buried under the weight of guitars and pummelling kit work that leaves no stone unturned in its ferociousness.
Each track references religion in some way shape or form and slower sludge groove track “The Ladder” is no different. Chunky slow headbanging riffs leave plenty of space and time for the vocals to deliver the message and a gang chant shows off some of the bands hardcore influences. “On Both Sides” continues that slower groove with a more menacing undertone before stepping up into some more breakneck paced work. There is no doubt bodies will get thrown around to this. Slowing things down once more the band build atmosphere over a verse before a some pounding drum work and another speech sample bring things to a Doom laiden close. Title track “Doom & Gloom” sees Iron Curtain joined by Tommy Green of Sleeping Giant fame for the second guest appearance. Bludgeoning rhythm riffs and big drum fills are the order of the day as Earthquakes are felt on the opposite side of the globe while this one plays out. Again all verse no chorus, there is a progressively faster section that closes it out before a siren sounds. A fitting title track if there ever was one. “The Ocean” is the surprise of the new songs with a slow acidic unclean vocal accompanying some more melodramatic atmospheric guitar work. When the bass and drums join in the mix, the guitars don’t kick up straight away, instead there is a build with a shoe gazing quality. When things do kick up, it’s not to change the pace, but to deliver some crushing slow death guitar work to bring things to a dark and heavy closing to accompany those savage unclean vocals. “Doom & Gloom” is more about the Sludge Metal meets Hardcore down a dark alley and less about the Grind [8/10]
“Doom & Gloom” by Iron Curtain is out now and available over at bandcamp.