Hearses have been my obsession for a long time. No, I am pretty much serious about it. Having been a fan of 70-s Mafia movies since my early childhood I have always adored the funeral processions involving these gloomy vehicles and dreamed about procuring one for quite long time. However, it was not until the emergence of Iron Hearse that hearses received the credit they truly deserve, and it is exactly this type of hearse that received most of my attention afterwards.
Irion hearse takes its origin back in 2001, when 3 school friends from Wiltshire apparently obsessed with hearses as much as I was started to rehearse in the dilapidated shed. Drawing inspirations from the legends like Obsessed, Sleep, Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath these guys introduced the hearse –worshipping cult into the doom community. Several line-up changes, especially in terms of drummer section, had threatened the integrity of the band in a couple of occasions, but the hearse continued to roll the coffins to the burial grounds nonetheless.
Since then the hearse embarked on a slow and heavy ride, releasing a self- titled demo in 2003 and “Ruins of Doom” demo in 2004. Next year brought us band’s first EP “Peddle the Metal”, but it was not until the year of 2006 that Iron Hearse received first really serious load of coffins with first self-titled full-length. The release was a pure Doomy Stoner Rock worshipping, reminiscent of a more rock oriented songs of the original purveyors such as Black Sabbath and Pentagram. Above that, the band successfully incorporated some bluesy influences into their songs pushing this type of music much further than many of the counterparts however still appealed to the standards of the genre and steered clear of drowning their songs in drone or any other type of bad-ass heavy seriousness.
Having unloaded the coffins on this positive note, the hearse continued to throttle further along the gloomy highway with the next stop at “Lunar Funeral “graveyard, which accidentally became the moniker which the band had chosen for the next pile of coffins which was unloaded in 2010. Same year, split with fellow American doom-rockers Leather Nun saw the light of the day (or dark of the night he –he) after which the hearse took 2 years of maintenance and overhaul the result of which we could see on the Live at Doomsday IV DVD and will continue to marvel while digesting their sophomore effort “Get In The Hearse” Released on March the 1st via Snake Mountain Recs.
Here again we are immediately drawn into the onslaught of riffs, albeit this time there is more catchier touch to the songs as becomes obvious from the first sections of the album opener “Wolf Clergy”. What immediately came to notice during the first spin were amazing solo guitar sections courtesy of Grant Powell, who also handles vocals with a gruff, biker-style delivery which also stretches to almost Sean Harris territory at times.
The fuzzy rhythm section was not left behind as well as it continued to flow throughout the rest of the song however solo part was the thing which I craved for more after the first spin. Next one, “Slow and Heavy Ride”, pretty much lives up to its name as it sets the tone for what to expect next with its mid-tempo heavy as hell but at the same time groovy and melodic riffage. The ride is only 3:37 minutes long but everything sounds just right and it is definitely good that these guys decided not to overextend the songs with monotonous and repetitive riffs as many of their counterparts tend to do.
Having got into the hearse on a slow and heavy ride for a couple of spins, I ventured further along the highway with the next stop at the “Vessel of Astaroth.” This piece is not much different from what the previous song was offering as it is built around the same mid-tempo heavy riffs with lush solos interfering with the flow of the song. A section build upon the Paranoid-meets-Children of the Grave (early Black Sabbath era) is dominating the eardrums over the last minute of the songs and feels straight to the point even after a number of spins.
“Hydra’s Children”, the fourth coffin loaded in the hearse, adheres to the tradition of the previous song. Starting with the Saint Vitus –styled riffs the hearse picks the pace once the 1:30 mark is passed and further punishes our eardrums with intense onslaught of straightforward but heavy as fuck goodness.
Next parking zones at “Ain’t No New Thing” and “Orion’s Sword “do the right job, but it is the last two spots where the Iron Hearse unloads the heaviest coffins. “Black Sermon” is the 7-th coffin and it is definitely heavy as it weighs above 5 minutes. This song distinguishes itself from the previous ones there is much doomier feel to it. It could have been easily predicted as the name is self-explanatory to some extent. To tell you the truth, this one saw my head banging most over the course of the entire ride. I enjoyed it for as much as 4 times while these words were being written. And finally, the hearse unloads “The Ultimate Atomic Man”, the last and the biggest coffin the hearse has offered so far. It weighs 5:48 minutes and delivers top-notch grooves which initially sound much in the vein of the second song “ Slow and Heavy Ride” however evolve into pummeling dose of HEAVY-AS–SAINT-VITUS–MULTIPLIED-BY-10–SABBATH goodness closer towards the end.
To sum everything up, Iron Hearse has successfully reached destination. All of you who crave for good doom rock in the vein of Saint-Vitus, Angel Witch, Obsessed and off course Black Sabbath should grab this one immediately. A brilliant sound track for what looks to be a cold and sleazy March)
(Reviewed by Den)