Austria might be famous for quite a few things in this world – mountains, delicious food and a weird dialect for example – but Doom Metal is not exactly one. However IRON HEEL hailing from the country’s capital Vienna have all the darkened potential to change this, bringing misery and sweet leaf-ish epicness upon us with their debut full length Book Of Grief.
Already turning heads with their demo, IRON HEEL kept evolving in an absolutely exemplary manner. The predominantly screamed, harsh vocals of the band’s early days are almost gone completely (except for a few moments when gastly cries mirror the ugliness of this world, like in Sleepwalker), giving way for truly epic, dramatic vocals raised in the school of Candlemassionism. If you listen to this and don’t want to stand on a mountain top with a 6.5 ft long sword in your hand something is seriously wrong with you.
The music is more than a mere backdrop to the vocal performance. The pounding riffs are the foundation everything else is built upon, and there are plenty of truly awesome ones here: Powerful, simple and slugishly dragging along the guitar work reminds me quite a bit of Electric Wizard. However IRON HEEL doesn’t only rely on the blatant riff delivery but also show off great skills when it comes down to tasteful guitar leads and innovative ideas – just check out Mountain Throne halfway through the song: an almost quiet moment that owes as much to Doom Metal as it does to Post Rock, but in a very untypical, non-sucking way.
I do not know if IRON HEEL took their name from Jack London’s novel, but the quote above just perfectly outlines the atmosphere present on Book Of Grief. Of course there’s darkness, misery and pain present on this record, but in the end of the day IRON HEEL also manage to let tiny bits of hope gleam through all the plight.
There’s no doubt about it: Book Of Grief is an absolute gem of the Doom genre, adapting enough of the traditional elements to remain true to the game but including just the right amount of progressive ideas and influences from other genres to remain interesting throughout the whole 40 minutes of the album. If you like your riffs heavier than heaven, don’t look any further.
There’s something inside of a well-crafted doom riff — some active ingredient — that has gotta be like a time-released heavy dosage of feel-good, burrowing deep into your brain stem and jettisoning its payload of relaxing chemicals. Maybe it’s the mountain of fuzz with a bass-y foot that’s powerful enough to jumpstart a stopped heart. But, really, you could play that trippin’ stoner progression on nylon strings strapped to a hunk of plywood and I still think I would meet every bend with an “Ahhhhhhhhhhh, yeah, that’s the stuff.”
Iron Heel has “the stuff.” They have a lot of the stuff. They’ve been busy stockpiling the collected venom from Goatsnake, injecting it straight into their songwriting pens. The result is Book of Grief, which introduces itself with a shake as crushing as Windhand’s. Iron Heel, though, doesn’t attempt the gaussian blur of pharmaceutical dependancy. For all of the doom they down, their eyes are pretty clear. It’s almost more of a rock record, in the same way Acid Bath would slough off sludge for glam and power pop. In fact, this might be the best way to sneak some serious heft by fickle shorthairs if you’re stuck being the office taxi for happy hour later.
Take a track like “Sokushinbutsu.” Starting with the obligatory, though rarely unsatisfying bass foreshadowing, the Heel stomps its foot on the distortion pedal, nailing a nasty NOLA riff. Then, there it is, the singin’ surprise. The vocalist is much closer to, say, Witchcraft than your typical method actor smack-abuser trying to push away from the pit with every over-anguished larynx-rattler. Still, it’s not like he’s cheery. He matches the shot-through-with-blues tweener notes of the strums, filling up the gutbucket until its overflowing. That’s why Iron Heel works so well. It does everything doom needs to do, but it also isn’t afraid to get cocky with a Jesus Christ pose in tight jeans. It may take a few spins for it to settle right. When it does, it’s Wall of Sleep nice, finding a fresh way to deliver the slow, low, and gloom.
Gloom on a Friday? If you have to ask, you’ve never FELT one of these riffs. Mate, turn this up and recalibrate.
This only came out yesterday and apart from the sometimes clicky bass drum, it's absolute heaven. It has a very traditional doom metal feel to it, while also maintaining a crossover, stoner element to it's vibe. That all said, apart from a few surprises everything is kept in a Vitus like pace. I guess it kind of reminds me of Goatsnake or Serpent Venom with the big heavy riffs and powerful vocalist.
It has been a good while since I've heard riffs truly as heavy as these whilst remaining incredibly groovy throughout. As a first release proper release (y'know, not a demo), Iron Heel establish both maturity with a genuine love and understanding of the cavernous riff.
More stoner doom! Iron Heel, hailing from Vienna Austria, ja, released their full-length debut Book of Grief back in September. Somehow, this went completely under my radar until a few days ago.
No offense to other stoner doom bands at all, but you know what you’re gonna get when something is labeled as “stoner/doom.” Iron Heel makes an effort to stand out from that though. One of the things that stood out most to me was the lyrics. The lyrics on this album were actually pretty interesting to go back and read; esoteric, open to interpretation (is Sleepwalker about zombies?!) The vocals are the star of this album to me though. Think epic, wailing Candlemass meets Electric Wizard, with some harsh screams bordering on sludge territory, thrown in there. It’s all there.
There was a time when Electric Wizard was really heavy, people will hate me for this, but the new stuff just doesn’t cut it for me, I’m more of a Dopethrone dude, when I first heard that album, my ears just exploded, and I couldn’t listen to anything for a whole month, it was pure heavy. Since then Electric Wizard have gone their own path, but without a doubt Dopethrone influenced the sound of a lot of bands, one of them is Iron Heel.
Iron Heel is a relatively new band from Vienna, Austria, they play basically a heavy mix of doom, stoner and black metal, but with an accent on the doom. Their first LP ever, Book of Grief, just dropped a couple of weeks ago, self released by the band.
Book of Grief is just 5 songs short, but the amount of distortion and heaviness make it seem like it’s crawling forever, which is not a bad thing, if you love slow distorted songs, you’re gonna love that feeling, somewhat similar to the feeling a Saint Vitus record gives you.
The production is excellent, the guitars sound larger than life, the bass is just so bassy, that it makes your stomach rumble, and the drums destroy your eardrums. Vocals wise, I was really surprised, from the first riff, I was expecting someone to start screaming in my ear, but apparently most of the vocals are clean, expect for two songs, where they sound like someone who’s competing with Mike Williams for who has the most acute throat cancer.
The dynamic of the songs don’t change that much, they are mostly doom, with a stoner tone, playing in a tripplety bluesy feel, but sometimes they hit you in the face like the song Séance which starts out with a fast beat, yet played with a lazy feel, somewhat similar to what Winter used to do, actually some parts of some songs sound close to doom death bands such as Autopsy and Coffins.
All in all this is a great release, something that sounds like Electric Wizards’s Dopethrone, yet it somewhat reminds you of Coffins having intergalactic sex with Eyehategod, has to be pretty damn good, right? Well it is, and it’s even more. Really hope this gets put out on vinyl sometime soon, cuz that’s where this music needs to be, until then, go download it on their bandcamp page, it’s pay what you want, and you know you want to pay.
Iron Heel is:
Bogad - bass
Kastner - drums
Lippmann - voice
Zehetner - guitar
A lonely submarine navigating the black emptiness. A motley crew from vienna bound for the glories of groove. The sonar is
scanning the surface: deep frequencies of doom and stonermetal, lyrics that oscillate between occult mysteries and the rebellions of the depressed. The perfect soundtrack for your next hike through the swamp of the mind. Feel the Heel!...more