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Album Of The Month April 2018
Iona Death Cult | ‘Aid To Worship’

Let’s take a gamble here.

It isn’t the finished article, nor is it anywhere even close.

It’s flawed, with plenty of work needing done all over the place.

But this is a diamond in the rough, and no mistake. The tone, the sonic plough, the spirit in it, and the vision, all combine to make it a brilliant, brilliant release – even if its essentially a demo.

Right from the start it screams individualism.

The caustic, elastic bass finds its note only at the end of the pluck, before diving into a Crowbar-rusted swing that just pulses forward like fuck.

And yes, here is the first (and lasting) big flaw: the vocals are produced poorly, sitting badly in the mix and sung in a matter that isn’t entirely convincing, at least where notes are concern, rather than bellows.

‘The Apathy Of Ghosts’ is a track written by guys that either know exactly what they’re doing or have an inbuilt knack for groove, The Riff and the epic. Everything about it is cool.

The low down and dirty shuffle opening of ‘Slumlord’ recalls a bit of 90’s Corrosion of Conformity in a way – probably from around ‘Wiseblood’, if my ears are still working properly. It’s definitely in there.

And its in this track that one of the more surprising elements of the band’s sound blasts through: a wonderful, fluid and incredibly technically accomplished solo in the style of later Dimebag soaring over the top of it.

Who saw that coming in what’s effectively some pretty approachable sludge?

No-one, that’s who.

Killer track follows killer track. Does ‘Kafka’ reference the Police’s ‘Invisible Sun’? I dont know – maybe. It’s a moody interlude.

The whole thing is just immersive, melding metal, grunge, sludge, caustic guitars, snappy cymbals and tight snares into a completely listenable and more importantly memorable whole.

A fantastic offering.

– 4.2 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 17/04/18

  1. Couldn’t make it through a.n entire song of those vocals

  2. Agreed, vocals are horrendous.

  3. Fintan Stack Says:

    “into a completely listenable and more importantly memorable whole”

    No, the vocals destroy it.Therefore not completely listenable. The music is fantastic, absolutely spot on with your descriptions there but the vocals (The most important piece of pie) are amateur. I’ll echo the lads saying it was tough to make it through that track because of them.

    The vocal is the downfall of >90% of Irish bands. If these guys could iron that element out we’d be onto a reall winner.

  4. Earl grey Says:

    That’s also what I thought the first few times. But the songs are too good.

  5. pentagrimes Says:

    The songs musically are absolutely fine but I’d echo what Fintan said, and what you said yourself about them being delivered in a “not entirely convincing manner”. Listened to the whole thing on the way into work and musically it’s far more interesting than a lot of bands in the style but those sub-Crowbar (and on “Slumlord” almost Marilyn Manson) style vocals really detract from the whole thing to the point where it becomes very distracting. It’d be nice to see them find a more fitting singer (and I mean singer here, not yeller), cos they have it nailed musically for the most part.

  6. Fintan Stack Says:

    Definitely, a singer would be fitting. I listened to the track a few times over and it’s just so frustrating. We have talented bands here that go no further due to the vocals. I don’t wish to be harsh on the lad but I guarantee that will be the consensus.

    I wonder whether the Earl would have persevered with it had it been presented outside the remit of a review? Your opinion is your opinion but I wonder did you come to that conclusion with your “critique hat” on?

  7. pentagrimes Says:

    Don’t really think that’s releveant though Stacky. It was probably sent in for review so he had to listen to it with the critic’s hat on and persevere to give it a fair shake. Having reviewed stuff here over the years, if you have to review stuff you have to basically live with it for a few days or even weeks before you can write about it

  8. Fintan Stack Says:

    Yeah, just trying to get into his headspace. He has a sharp ear for critique especially when it comes to Irish music and I mean that in a positive sense. To my mind the vocals are a flaw and perhaps a fatal one so am just surprised to see such a high praise for the overall ep.

    I suppose people have heard enough from me, what does anyone else think?

  9. i think the vocals are pretty bad.
    album of the month for something with vocals this bad is fairly strange tbh

  10. Gave it a quick spin last night and the sub- Windstein vocals were too grating to get through. I like Crowbar and I like Kirk’s vocals but I can’t be fucked with anyone who tries to copy him. Didn’t manage to hear enough to make a comment on the music, which says it all.

  11. I bought a crowbar album once, Lifesblood for the Downtrodden (had to google it to remember) and I couldn’t get past the vocals on it at all or the general shitness of the songs. These vocals brought back that vague memory. The music seems to be a sort of sludge/nu metal crossover but I only got 3 songs in because i didn’t have much time. A surprising AOTM for sure.

  12. I’m just glad no one mentioned my shitty bass playing ha ha. Fair comments all, it’s my first attempt at singing lead and its the weakest thing about the album, definitely, I was astonished we got such a good review tbh.I would say the album isn’t for everyone, it’s very much us over stretching ourselves in places but we just wanted to get the songs down,the next batch is completely different again, and the vocals I think are a bit stronger on the next bunch. Thanks Earl for the great review, chuffed with the score anyways.

  13. Black Shepherd Says:

    Aye, the vocals lack a bit of their own identity, but I was expecting far worse from the comments here. Drop the Yankee drawl and get spitting out in something more resembling yer Bray roots. Sketch.

    Music is class. Artwork intentionally a rip-off/homage to Music Has The Right To Children?

  14. “I wonder whether the Earl would have persevered with it had it been presented outside the remit of a review? Your opinion is your opinion but I wonder did you come to that conclusion with your “critique hat” on?”

    That’s hard to pick apart. Out of a sense of duty, because things are sent in, naturally its only fair to listen to it more than if it had just popped up on Spotify or something. So yes, things are listened to more. They have to be.

    The flip side of that is that like an old casette or cd, things open up more and lodge with you better with proper multiple plays.

    In terms of this release, what did it for me was not the opening song or riff, arresting though it is. Its actually how the badly sung vocals – while they stick out like a sore thumb – are not a very big part of the whole picture at all.

    And that’s what becomes clear with a proper repeated listen to the full album.

  15. The Boards of Canada artwork reference made by BSC is fairly spot on alright.

  16. Guitar and bass sound massive, can’t help but think the drum sound is a bit thin and toppy though. What to be expected from a demo though, admittedly.

  17. Hippiefrom60000fathoms Says:

    Maybe it’s just me. But I’ve always felt the Irish people don’t have the right voices to sing or vocalise the way other nations can. It’s an unpopular opinion I’m sure but it’s something I’ve personally always picked up on. Maybe it’s our accents, or something else but it’s always been the downfall for Irish musicians in certain genres (metal/rap particularly). Of course there are transcending artists who’s voices are incredible but they don’t normally play the aforementioned genres. Regardless however, the musicianship here is top drawer, you can smell it’s more a demo a mile away. Very unpolished, very raw, very emotional. These chaps put a lot into this art and they deserve credit, sonically it’s dabbles in different genres while still being unabashed and sludgy. I can smell The Melvins, I can smell Weedeater and weirdly, I can get a whiff of Clutch in some tracks. Irish vocals have never been for me, apart from Christy Moore and the late Doloras O’Riordan, but again, I just don’t think our Turnip heads are designed for these genres. Maybe I’m wrong, I’m also awfully stoned right now. Happy Hanukkah!

  18. To the BOC reference, we had no input into the design, we gave the artist in Portugal free reign, I can see the similarity and I wasn’t aware of it before but you’d have to put that question to Diogo.On the subject of my vocals, it’s a first outing and what you can hear is my valiant attempt, however to the person saying I consciously copied Kirk, I tried to do in each instance what I thought would fit the song and it turns out that my version of that hews close to Kirk, then Im happy with the comparison, but did I set out to rip him off, no. On the Irish are shit vocalists subject posed by Hippie, I guess I kind of agree? But then in another comment I’m told spit with your Bray accent, a weird one, since I dont really have one to begin with, I’m afflicted with that middle of the road transatlantic accent as a result probably of American TV, but also because that’s how half the people speak around my way, our guitarist is positively California and he’s only from Glenageary.Years of working in leafy Foxrock have beaten any accent out of me even more, to the point where yes I can sound American at times , in fact abroad I have to tell people I’m from Ireland. So there’s that. So from one point,about the unpalatable Irish style, maybe that’s why so many of us affect, as Black Sheperd so succinctly puts it, a Yank drawl

  19. On the subject of the vocals themselves, we d be the first to admit theyre rough, as is the recording in places, which, as we continue to record and find our own style will improve,the new songs are quite different and have more of a melodic, psychedelic bent.These songs mark a point where we were finding our sound I think but as a band we try and be constantly evolving anyway, in fact I’m fully convinced most MI heads, even ones who enjoyed Aid, will most likely hate the next album anyway. On Aid, we were striving for the rawness and immediacy of a Kurt Ballou record, references would obviously be Converge, High On Fire, Mutoid Man etc.We stretched ourselves to make it and as Earl pointed out, it’s not all there, the mix is rough, the vocals are lacking in a lot of it, but the songs are there, mostly due to Ed, who is a songwriting and guitar powerhouse and I’m very lucky to work with him and call him a friend.

  20. I also realise that sending a review to MI is like sticking your dick in a bees nest at times, and I’m grateful that Earl not only took the time to listen to it but also was so complimentary about it.So thank you.To Jamie Grimes, Oskorei and Fintan Stack, I’m just grateful of a 4.2/5 score given my sub Crowbar, Manson esque horrendous vocals,im glad I could make the cut.

  21. Fintan Stack Says:

    Jaysus lads relax. It was a bit of feedback.

  22. Fair enough, Im just being a salty cunt now Lol.Roast away gents, I’m being too sensitive and that’s never good. It’s not the sludge way.

  23. Being sub Windstein suits me down to the ground, I’d gladly wear a dog collar and let big little K lead me around on a leash, he’s a sludge legend. As for Mazza, Holy Woods a seminal album and if I came close to embodying even a tenth of that man’s boisterous sexual energy I’d die happy.We did rip off Boards of Canada, but only musically, you can hear their soothing wonk buried in Whores and Thieves. We’re actually prepping a nu sludge version of Everything You Do Is A Balloon, with some zesty rap metal vocals.

  24. Please dont put me in the Hall Of Fame with Big Mad Phil and Keith Kirby, I’ve learned my lesson.

  25. Scumdogian Says:

    So the vocals can stand to be a bit better, so what? That can be improved upon no bother. Fair play for giving it a lash. Glad I took the time to listen to this, because musically this release is incredible, will definitely be keeping an eye on this band going forward.

  26. Lord Crumb Says:

    Salty cunt is right. Jesus. Roast away? The vocals are poor but 99% enjoyed the music. Helpful criticism I would’ve said.

  27. Well people are talking I guess, so we must be doing something right 🙂 Hey we re just glad anyones listening at all. Thanks Scumdogian, kind words 🙂

  28. KnightOwlBen Says:

    I’ve just had my first go at listening to the full album, and the music is just insanely good. Absolutely love it! And, to be 100% honest, I really enjoyed the vocals throughout. Yes, they’re quite rough, but I think they fit in with the music well, and besides that, I think everything else should be strong enough to keep people listening even if they’re not the biggest fans of the vocals. I think maybe just some people need to get out of the mindset that vocals are more important than everything else?

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