Saturday, June 14, 2014

Iron Dogs - Free and Wild [2013]

It's always comic to see a band wielding such a cheesy, over-the-top cover art somehow cultivate a far more unique and engrossing sound than a good many of its peers who invest such money and effort into their album covers. Good covers do no necessitate good music; I think we all know that by now. Here's the second moral of the day: never judge a book by its cover. Indeed, a sword-wielding angry wench surrounded by a bunch of heads piled up on wooden stakes does precipitate the most worldly and intriguing of musical machinations, but however much this may be frowned upon, there's no denying that neglecting Iron Dogs' sophomore ''Free and Wild'' is a big mistake. With a wise selection of precursory influences that extend further than simply Maiden and Priest, but with a celerity and liveliness that would make the two gods proud, a pop/rock-variety brevity in the songs, and more melodies stuffed in a mere 28 minutes that so-called ''melodic'' metal bands would dare imbue into their song patterns, ''Free and Wild'' screams out with nostalgic, unabashed bliss.

''Free and Wild'' is such a load of tremendous fun and 80's awesomeness that I can't really state its selling point. Everything shines through. In case you still couldn't get a picture of what the Canadians have in store for you, I'll be as lucid as possible. The album draws strength from a number of concurrent influences freely flaunting with each other; the occasional Maiden, Priest, but there's still more Jag Panzer (think ''Ample Destruction'') than, I daresay, any other retro heavy metal to ever strap on a guitar and mount a drum stool, and I haven't even begun to mention the minuter spectrum of sounds converging in the mix, notably Angel Witch, Exciter, Agent Steel, ''Kill 'em All'' era 'tallica - even tits and bits of Razor flirting with the more rapacious outbursts of tempered energy. Yet in all the colorful palette of influences, creating a true melting pot of traditional heavy metal, (if not an apotheosis of the genre's manifestation) the Canadians somehow dazzle the listener with style of their own. The same way the English Deceptor challenged me to my wits' end with the sheer insurmountable quality of their EP ''Chains of Delusion'', Iron Dogs manage sound as cool as bands did in the past, without being tied down by the past.

Swirling, spiraling flirts of harmonious melodies are reminiscent of Satan's outstanding ''Life Sentence'', but different still. Irreprissible and meretricious, ''Free and Wild'' in the kind of album that refuses to be bound to the ground with chains, and attracts attention with its sheer punch and crudity. The manic, melodious guitar riffs aside, though, vocalist Jo Capitalicide can just as well be the BEST thing this record has to offer. As much as I am a great big guitar nerd myself, a staunch boaster of technicality and blazing guitar solos, Jo's vocals enamored me so much that I could listen to the first 3 seconds of the ending track ''Island of the Dead'' over an over again just to immerse myself in his outstanding voice. No need to elaborate - the man in the resurrection of Harry Conklin of Jag Panzer. Doused in reverb and heedless of ''professional'' vocal values, his inflection kicks nigh-over as many asses as the plodding guitars. Who said heavy/power metal had to be done with a banshee, screaming at the top of his lungs? Jo fits the bill for ''Free and Wild'' more perfectly than I might have conceived, and literally catapults Iron Dogs to the next level of musical excellence.

Any gripes? Only that the record was too fucking short! Given that the whole record clocks at 28 minutes, it's a bit difficult to excavate a huge deal of pleasure with just one spin. ''Free and Wild'' requires more frequent spinning than a dozen or so efforts by the generic retrogressors of the field. For fucks sake, if you can't derive any fun from the maniacal chords and melodies fluttering around the record, nor Jo's vocal delivery, you need to see a doctor, asap. But Iron Dogs are still willing to forgive that. Just open the lyrics to the title track and sing them out; the anthem is so utterly uplifting that it motions involuntary nods even as I'm writing this. Indoor! No more! And for the love of God, if you're still not properly enthralled, you need a serious fix. Sure,''Free and Wild'' may not be the masterpiece of the decade, but its sheer distinction serves as a viable consolidation for the fact, for which I couldn't care less. Enter, but beware of the nude guardian lying in wait. Posers need not apply.

Free and Wild
Island of the Dead

Rating: 92%

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