Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Night Violence: Iron Lung

Seattle based duo Iron Lung are one of the best purveyors of power violence today. Right off the bat, one of Iron Lung's best qualities is their ingenuity when it comes to song writing and style. Playful at times, dismally oppressive at others, this guitar drum duo create so much with so little that a first time listener will find it hard to believe that this band recreates 100% of their recorded material live. Characteristically dissonant, fast, and uncomfortable sounding, Iron Lung find themselves incomparable.

Songs like "Arc Lamp" and "Pushing Life" showcase the musicality playfulness between drummer Ward and guitarist Kortland between the weird plopping riff in the middle of "Pushing Life" or the awesome stop start workout of "Arc Lamp."  Cold Storage  offers a great starting point for new comers as it's a catch all of some of their best work (not to mention many of the original sources being out of print). In addition to the two mentioned previously, "Body Enclosing," "Spirophore," and "Mechanical Assistance" are essential tracks from the band.

Major shifts are obvious, mostly in terms of production when comparing their early days and their sound today. Sexless/No Sex is an incredibly overwhelming and well throughout record that leaves little room to breath. Tracks jump from one to another as if they were afraid you might turn the record off after one song (the jump from "Future Corpse" to "Sexless/No Sex" is one of my favorite build ups). As mentioned earlier, the craftsmanship is a pinnacle as their songs are so dynamic and fulfilling. While traces exist, one of the only things I've found Iron Lung to have dropped over the years are the incredibly bleak atmospheric intros that sound reminiscent of outdated medical equipment and large apparati associated with fatal diseases. Beyond that, later material sounds a bit closer the hardcore spectrum of things and offers a much fuller and warmer production.

I was fortunate to catch the band back in 2010 when they played the pre-fest show for Maryland Deathfest. Needless to say they were the highlight of the night, as well as one of the best bands that weekend. Drummer/Singer Jensen Ward was a surprisingly funny guy offering some stand-up like banter between songs. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ward handle singing and playing drums so well (I figure this is harder than it looks).And while the set couldn't have been longer than 30 minutes, they did all they needed to to do with some of my favorite songs. 

Beyond their amazing live show, as a drummer, Ward is one of my favorite players. Rarely is a drummer in the spectrum of punk as imaginative as he is. Whether it's playful beats, off-time sounding accents, or dexterous fills, he has such a huge personality that comes through in his drum playing. "Pushing Life," "Arc Lamp," and "Concentric Circulator" are just some examples.

Another highlight to the band has to be their penchant for collaborations. There is Public Humiliation which is a collaboration between Ward and Kortland's side projects, Pig Heart Transplant and Walls (respectively) and was recorded live back in 2008. The former is noise act of sorts while the latter is a hardcore act. I love live recordings, and this one just so happens to be great. This was throughout, yet a bit spontaneous sounding. Another collaboration with the Gulf Coast act Hatred Surge is great as well, although they mesh so well it doesn't sound as varied as Public Humiliation does.

Intrusive, sporadic, creative and jarring, Iron Lung strive strong as one of the most interesting, challenging, and simply good bands around (never-mind the genre).

Essential Discography

Tentacled Breathing (split w. Teen Cthulhu) 7"
Demonstrations In Pressure and Volume 7"
Life. Iron Lung. Death.  LP/CD
Sexless//No Sex – LP/CD 
Broken- A Collaboration (w. Hatred Surge) 7"
Public Humiliation- A Collaboration (w. Walls and Pig Heart Transplant) LP    


DesiccatedVeins said...

Sexless//No Sex is an absolute masterpiece, by far my favorite from them.

Perpetual Strife said...

As much as I like that album, I find myself more infatuated with the stuff found on Cold Storage. Year of black metal have tempered my ears to prefer a rougher production.

DesiccatedVeins said...

I mainly just prefer full-length albums to odds-'n-sods records, I can't stand drastic shifts in volume and production. I love noisy production (as my review of that Arsedestroyer record on my blog will attest) but disparity in production from song-to-song on a single record just gets to me for some reason.

Andrew Childers said...

sing it with me everybody:

*stomp stomp stomp*

Perpetual Strife said...

That was a good one live. I stomped a lot.

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