“You learn a lot about yourself when all the ties are cut,” is one of the (typically) good lines on one Iron & Stone’s new release, Maelstrom Demo.
Track two, “Surge,” fades out with the line, “Please free me from this empathy,” exemplifying I&S’s tendency to be a weird blend of insightful, sorta-positive hippie music with doomy sludge–
Sludge/doom is usually a more negative or ominous type of music, whereas I&S often come off as positive, or at least forward-thinking, in the semantic content of their lyrics (probably a much less noticeable effect if you don’t speak English); I find this funny because I&S are two German dudes, and I like to stereotype Germans as combative and belligerent (if quite polite and self-disciplined), even though I know that’s just a generalization.
I’m kidding. Of course all Germans are like that.
The important question, anyway, for stoner/sludge/doom bands: how’s the tone…?
Pretty detuned, yet still “fuzzy” (i.e., sounding like the higher-pitched stoner/rock bands like Fu Manchu or Clutch use)…. It’s like a sludge doom band stole the equipment of a stoner rock, Clutch-type act’s equipment (and tuned it way down)….
(And for the record: Clutch are generally tuned to D, while I&S are further down in C– they probably totally fucked up the tunings on Clutch’s gear, man….)
You can understand pretty much all the vocals, which even have a bit of melody, though it’s pretty rough– I&S can often sound, vocally, like Agnostic Front of all bands… and they can also simultaneously sound like Eternal Elysium (which coincides with the severe-low end yet hippie stoner vibe).
“Maelstrom,” with its minor-sounding fade out riff, sounds like Eternal Elysium covering Depeche Mode. Not unawesome.
Closer “Rising tides” is a little poppier than the previous tunes, and a bit rock anthemish; it’s a good song overall, but doesn’t work as well as the others on here, and seems somehow out of character for them.
So, a bit of a misfire at the end, but overall Maelstrom Demo is quite the great sludge/doom record. Top 20 of the year.