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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Album Review: Ironweed - "Your World of Tomorrow"

Ironweed don't want you to think like everyone else. Luckily, they've provided a manual on how to tolerate the mundane just until you can get home, crack a beer, and sneer in the face of conformists. The album's cover says plenty (unfold the album's insert and it says much more) about its message. This concept album wastes no time in grabbing your collar and doing everything it can to keep you from becoming another automaton. Don't buy in, pig. Don't buy in.

You can call Your World of Tomorrow a departure from Ironweed's sound, strongly established on 2008's Indian Ladder, but you'd be neglecting the band's strides. You can't call it stoner-metal, you can't call it grunge, you can't even call it terribly unsettling until you focus on the lyrics. The influences permeate the disc without detracting from the band's vision. Is this what post-grunge might've sounded like if it hadn't had a false sense of entitlement? One wonders.

Now Stronger wastes absolutely no time in combining dusty groove with cock-rock vocals and that distant sunset guitar we cream our jeans over. Timing on the track (and throughout the disc) is perfect, a testament to impeccable production. Guitars here are roman candles, finding a discernible pattern while seemingly spraying everything with good-time flames. The rhythm never relents, setting the tone for an aggressive, poignant collection of tracks that leaves listeners thinking about their lives as they raise the horns.

Your World of Tomorrow is swollen with feedback, fuzz, and bounce, fueled by drums that remain steady at the forefront despite Jeff Andrews's brilliant classic-rock auditions. The vocals sail on Enduring Snakes as Mike Vitali's anthemic licks channel Kim Thayil's Jesus Christ Pose fretwork and the rhythm slices down sequoias. Listen to Awaken and you'll again hear Soundgarden, but you'll be surprised where the song goes, almost taking elements from HUM before the death-growl (out of nowhere) guides the listener through a rain-soaked funeral.

Dan Dinsmore's drums keep things modest here. The rhythm section (let's not ignore Slater's bass) does more in these forty minutes than most bands do in a career. The groove on both The Lucky Ones and Messenger chews up preconceptions, finding elements of doom and heart-thumping blur. These songs could be ballads if they were totally lame. Fortunately, they're not. On a short street, these songs click through gear after gear and sing no apology for the noise.

Two songs perfectly balance the album's mood and motivation; And the New Slaves paces the album well, though the listener quickly realizes this band doesn't give a shit about pacing. What's important here is the dreary dreaminess the track pretends not to seek. Admit it, guys... This song's brilliant, you know it, and you want the entire world to hear it. Guitars fight with one another, riffs slice through bone, and skin-slaps warn of the drag-race romp you're about to run from. Drums cheese out, spit, and fade into space. The song begins like Catamaran from Kyuss and ends like QOTSA's I was a Teenage Hand Model. Let's be clear... I don't have a problem with how the song begins, ends, or what's in-between. Neither will you.

On the other hand, Red Circles is C.O.C. guitar grind, with the song's final minute serving as one of the most head-twitching tracks I expect to hear this year. The guitars are sawing pines and hiding behind veils, all at once. The track goes in every direction, often at the drop of a hat. Love it.

The concept on Your World of Tomorrow is great, while the band's sound has evolved. Ironweed have struck an incredible balance between their instruments, creating a sound that is confident, honest, and ultimately indisputable. The production of the album is slick, the track selection is dead-on. It doesn't matter who people say this band kinda sounds like (Kyuss, Soundgarden, HUM, C.O.C.) because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Ironweed have put together an album that's meaningful without being pretentious, heavy without being over-stuffed, and precise without being clean. What a cool vibe.

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