Sunday 14 April 2024


Probably Desert Psychlist's favourite sub-genre of music would be the one that traversed that period between late sixties heavy blues rock and what would later be classed as heavy metal, we are talking proto-metal/doom here, a period that saw bands like Sir Lord Baltimore, BANG, Buffalo, Budgie and many. many more experimenting with louder amplification and new effects to create a sound that was heavier and harsher than anything that had come before it. Of course you could add big guns like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple to that list but there was something about the uncompromising rawness that those smaller, lesser known, often short-lived bands brought to the table that just felt so primal. It is probably why, to this day, we at Stonerking Towers are still drawn to bands with that proto metal/doom sound and also why we want to draw your attention to Australia's Iron Blanket and their debut album "Astral Wanderer"(Copper Feast Records & Sound Effects Records).

"Evil Mind" kicks things off and, apart from its heavily lysergic middle section, boasts a groove and vocal melody so authentically 70's it'll have you double checking the album notes to verify its release date. "Mystic Goddess" follows, its mixture of circular guitar riffage and driving rhythmic grooviness is decorated in a soaring vocal that tells of a "celestial being from realms unknown" in helium tinted tones that posses an essence of  both Mars Volta's Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Rush's Geddy Lee in their delivery as well a smattering of Budgie's Burke Shelley. Expect much of the same for the duration of the rest of the album with songs like the swaggering "Witch's Kiss", the cosmic and spacious "Kookaburra Dream" and the raucous and heavy "Iron Blanket" all steeped in a hybrid mix of 70's proto-metal/doom and 90's stoner rock dressed up with occasional forays into heavy psych. However, do not expect to find yourself getting bored or notice your attention starting to wander while listening to this stunning debut as all of the songs showcased here are of a type that grab you and keep you grabbed until they either bail out in a crescendo of noise or slowly fade into silence.

Iron Blanket members Mark Lonsdale (guitar), Nick Matthews (drums), Tom Withford (Guitar), Charles Eggleston (bass) and Johann Ingemar (vocals) were probably just a twinkle in their respective parents eyes when those early proto bands first tore up stages with their face melting heaviness but this has not stopped Iron Blanket from capturing that same raw grittiness with their own music. Let's not however pass off Iron Blanket as a retro band, there is much to found on "Astral Wanderer" that is informed by today's current underground rock scene, but having said that it is hard to ignore those 70's influences that run gloriously thick and true throughout each and every one of these ass-kicking songs.
Check 'em out .....

© 2024 Frazer Jones

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