Like a sonic juggernaut Iron Chest the new album from German sludge metallers Earthship crushes the senses into a submissive but gloriously satisfied husk. It is a release of crushing riffs, corrosive intensity, and ravenous rhythms toned with a fiery progressive grooved breath, an album to incite passion and provoke primal responses.
Iron Chest is the follow up to acclaimed 2011 debut Exit Eden and shows the band has not only evolved their sound but expanded every element in their musical arsenal to create a release which chews one up greedily and spits them out as an intrusively pleasured wreck. The band was formed in the spring of 2010 by ex- The Ocean drummer Jan Oberg alongside Dennis Boettcher on drums and Bastian Gutschke on bass guitar. The line-up was completed soon after by The Ocean guitarist Robin Staps. The line-up recorded Exit Eden with its release on Pelagic Records coming in early 2011. Leading up to the release the band played their debut gig in December of 2010 supporting Torche and followed it with the Friction tour across Europe alongside The Ocean, Red Fang and Intronaut. Just before the tour Gutschke left to be replaced by Sabine Oberg, the wife of Jan, and the beginning of this year saw the departure of Staps with the band shrinking to a compact trio.
Again released through Pelagic, Iron Chest raises a tempest upon the ear from the first note of opener Old Widow’s Gloom, its charged breath and erosive energy a greedy rub upon the senses. The guitars fire up a dust bowl of coarse riffs whilst the rhythms flattened the air to resonate deeply. The song is the essences of Mastodon, Crowbar, Kyuss distilled through the unique waspish grooves of Earthship. It is a mighty start easily maintained across the length of the album to leave one breathless and smarting from the intensity and fire brought with every track.
The following Athena and title track twist and stretch the synapses with incendiary melodic weaves and smouldering vocals behind the abrasive tones of Jan, the first a smouldering piece of stoner venom and the second a lashing of sharp riffs and scything sonic craft. The pair show the diversity across not only the first few songs but album as a whole, imagination and thought within the overall doom/sludge presence of the release insatiable and wholly contagious. This is an album and songs you really want to listen to in detail, to delve in fully such the rich rewards continually received.
Every song is an impactful and invigorating welcome bruise, all intent on branding the senses and each the giver of acidic mastery which overwhelms and fulfils equally. Further notable highlights come in the form of the blistering Boundless Void with its more reserved attack just has musically malevolent as the aggressive slabs of sound elsewhere, the quite magnificent Brimstone, and the closing giant of a track, Teal Trail. The first of this latter pair is a shifting corruption which unleashes eager passions for its magnetic weaves and molten waves of melodic lava and erosive energy whilst the final song just stomps with all metal guns blazing and rock n roll intent fuelling its passionate assault. It is a final rampage to relish whilst offering another distinct facet to what is one immensely pleasing release.
Iron Chest is a giant of an album, a titan which enflames the passions whilst wearing down the senses into an eager disciple before its malicious intent. The release sits as one of the best sludge/doom albums this year and Earthship a band equipped to flatten all rivals.
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