Iron Monkey – Spleen & Goad (Relapse Records)


There was a glorious period between 1996 and 1999 where hardcore, sludge, stoner and heavy music in general saw some iconic releases which still stand up today as classics of those genres. But there was one band above all else that galvanised everybody in the scene. Iron Monkey brought together elements from all these genres to create a juggernaut of ugly riffs and abrasive vocals, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the bands demise in 1999.

Vocalist Johnny Morrow’s untimely death in 2002 is still felt within our scene today and was a sign that surely the Iron Monkey story was over. Fast forward to 2017 and there were rumblings coming from within the old machine. Surely not?

Was heavy music going to be shown a very heavy and painful lesson once again?

The answer came later in 2017 with ‘9-13’ an album that showed that the mighty Monkey still had plenty of gas in the tank and the hatred and spite still ran deep as ever. A fitting hurrah?

Not a chance.

2024 and the worlds nastiest are back to deliver some more aural headaches with ‘Spleen & Goad’

As you’d expect it kicks in with squealing feedback which melts down into ‘Misthanthropizer’ which has one of those massive chugging grooves which are the bands calling card. The ever-present Jim Rushby has the unenvious job of replacing Morrow’s iconic growl, and does a thoroughly good job, mixing up guttural growls and fearsome roars. The lead single ‘Concrete Shock” is up next, offering up one of those riffs that could burst into a blast beat just as easily as it could lead into a trip on the doom train. They do their very best to mangle a Black Sabbath riff in ‘Off Switch” before ‘Rat Flag’ demonstrates some of that old school hardcore influence I talked about. The awesome ‘Lead Transfusion’ takes you on a twisted journey that veers in and out of a disjointed drumbeat. The album wraps up with perhaps the dirgiest offering of the lot in ‘The Gurges’ where some black metal guitar chops are on display, only to be kept in the mud by the grind of the drums. Always a band to mess with your mind, the album actually wraps up with a 3 minute noise gate called ‘O.D Rose’ showing that they still don’t give a fuck what you think.

‘Spleen And Gload’ is another triumph for a band, that many people thought it impossible to continue, after Morrow’s death, but that’s not what the spirit of this band is about. It’s about pushing boundaries and doing whatever the hell they want and the result is a resounding success. Iron Monkey still hate everything and everyone. They hate you and they hate me and that comes spewing out of their instruments. They are living proof that time truly heals nothing. Chris Andrews 


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