American doom metal band Iron Man, from Maryland, are legends here on the East Coast, and in the hearts of the underground metal scene. Shadow Kingdom keeps their history alive (they're still around, by the way) by reissuing their classic second album The Passage (1994). The work has been entirely remastered and packaged with a DVD of vintage concert video from 1999 (more on the latter below).
From their name to their sound, there's no question to Iron Man's influences. Heavy riffs built upon equally heavy and plodding arrangements with crackling guitar solos offer listeners that classic Sabbath sound that crushed small mountains like a bulldozer. Thankfully Iron Man never strayed from the traditional formula into death, drone, sludge or stoner doom metal. Often, their music nears the more powerful epic doom sharing a brotherhood with Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, or Solstice.
There's some crackin good material on The Passage, some of the best Iron Man has ever done. The Fury, Harvest of Earth, and The Passage prove Iron Man had a real love for their chosen genre and the chops to pull it off quite well. Band fans and students of the style might call The Passage Iron Man's best, displaying the band at their creative best. For them this is a rare jewel in the heavy doom metal tradition. Others will simply wonder why anyone would want to mimic classic Black Sabbath since they wrote all the great riffs already. I can understand their dismissive curiosity, but Iron Man is hardly a tribute band or a band doing a Sabbath/Doom homage. They are building upon a great tradition, doing it well on The Passage, and still carrying on today.
While the remastered The Passage is a fine representation of early Iron Man and classic doom metal, the same cannot be said for the DVD packaged with it. Essentially, this is concert video done by some dude walking around Jaxx Nightclub in Virginia with a handheld camera trying to dodge slovenly long-haired metalheads blocking the stage. As such the quality is horrible: pure basement tape material, and only for the diehard fans. Then, with the awful quality, I wonder if the diehard fan could actually even recognize their favorite songs anyway. Certainly, Iron Man played better gigs before better audiences. Otherwise, this video material is better to show the long-suffering trials that any band must go through to achieve some modicum of success. It's not totally Spinal Tap, but it could go there. Take interest in the reissue of The Passage first, and tell Shadow Kingdom Records to knock off four dollars for this video dribble.
Band fans and students of the style might call The Passage Iron Man's best, displaying the band at their creative best. For them this is a rare jewel in the heavy doom metal tradition.