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Iron Walrus : The Plague

Competent, but far too familiar, Iron Walrus offer some serious Crowbar worship.

Bands who wear masks or make up... Any takers? I suppose it depends on your own perception of reality. Personally, remembering back to when Euronymous first appeared in the press, photographed in all his corpse-painted splendour in the early nineties, I have to confess to finding the man more than a tad unsettling. Before long though, many of "Scandinavia's finest" just ended up looking like depressed versions of Kiss. More recently, though, on this website, there was the Disharmonic review which reminded me that 'theatre' is alive and well in the underground, and can still be used to great effect. And now we have Germany's Iron Walrus. Resplendent in their 'tusk-adorned' balaclavas, they play a generic brand of Sludge metal with no frills or suprises, save for the fact that they look like humans with the heads of walruses while they do it. Yup, walruses. Goo goo g'joo...

The album opens up promisingly enough with an atmospheric bass intro before descending into some serious Crowbar worship. Trouble is though, Crowbar already exist. First track proper, 'The Answer', has a decent enough bite to it, as it chugs along, and the lead guitar work, incidentals and solos that pepper the whole album are more than a handy addition to the overall feel of the record. But from there on it all becomes a bit too familiar, and, by extension, samey.

Is it badly played though? No, it isn't. One thing Iron Walrus do have are the requisite musical chops. Is it poorly produced. Nope. Everything sounds good. Check out the bass opening and build up on 'Judas' for a clear indication of how everything drops well into place. Vocally, you can't really fault the effort or delivery in terms of doing the genre of Sludge metal justice but you can't say you haven't heard it all before, and unfortunately throughout the album, for every nice touch added, there seems to be a bit of a let down lurking round the corner. For example, track six is called 'I Hate People'... Really? How's that working out for ya? Isn't that sentiment reserved for fourteen year olds in Slipknot t-shirts?

Iron Walrus share a fair amount in common with fellow countrymen Gorilla Monsoon, who were also covered here not that long ago. From moderately comical bandnames, along with the generic music and dubious song titles, to their obvious drive, musicality and production values. It's just a pity the latter aren't put to better use because there's definitely something worthwhile lurking about the place and tiny portions of the album have grown on me considerably since I started listening to it.

It's possibly a bit harsh to say, given the obvious effort that's gone into 'The Plague', but if this is your kind of thing then I would personally urge you to head in the directions of Diesel King, Slabdragger, or XII Boar instead. It will be far more rewarding. Or you could just get your copies of 'Take as Needed for Pain' and 'Odd Fellows Rest' out. Put them on and turn them up loud. There's a few reasons those two particular bands are still near the top of their game. Some of it has to do with originality. The grey lines in Kirk Windstein's beard may bear a passing resemblance to 'tusks', but I doubt very much he's ever considered asking his band to wear masks.

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Reviewer's rating: 5/10


Tracklist :
1. Here Comes The Plague
2. The Answer
3. Blessed
4. Balanced
5. Judas
6. I Hate People
7. Medial Sin
8. At Work
9. Common Sense
10. Seal The Fate

Duration : Approx. 42 minutes

Visit the Iron Walrus bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-08-13 by Matt Halsey
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