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Mother Iron Horse - Under the Blood Moon

Mother Iron Horse
Under the Blood Moon
by Chris Hicklin at 24 January 2022, 12:48 PM

Recorded in the shadow of the pandemic, MOTHER IRON HORSE are back with their second album, and in “Under the Blood Moon” the band has crafted a blasphemous blast of occult-influenced Doom-laden Stoner Rock. In this regard the deck is very much stacked in their favour, having the good fortune to hail from the centre of all things occult in the US, Salem MA. You may have heard of the place; I’m told they hanged some witches there. Faced with the prospect of not being able to play live, singer Adam Luca decided to take the band in a more studio lead direction, and consequently this LP takes things up a notch from their 2019 debut with more ambitious compositions and more attention paid to sonic details.

Shedding first blood with the gritty, brooding “The Devil’s WorkLuca’s vocals are robustly abrasive, if rather too low in the mix on this track. That gets fixed as the album progresses, but they sound a little lost at first. He can carry a tune too, although if you like vocal melodies, make the most of this one as much of the balance of the LP is brutally screamed, there’s a smattering of clean vocals but overall, the vocals are atypically raw for this genre of music.

Fully embracing their roots, “The Witches” is exactly what you might expect from an occult-soaked band from Salem, it’s a song about witches! This is where Luca’s vocals start to get serious, he sounds like a man possessed, and when the full power of the grooving riffage kicks in some way into the track, the impact is enormous. This song ducks and weaves a little with some tempo changes and a cool breakdown that really bring it to life.

With a fuzzed up and heavy riff, new guy bassist Devin Fields leads the way on “Old Man Satan” as he sends out wave after wave of grooving, sludgy goodness. Marco Medina has something almost resembling a guitar solo at the end, but it is simple and effective, showing off is not what this band is about.  The track segues into a far more gloomy, downbeat affair in “Nocturnal Eternal”, although it perks up in the melodic, singable choruses and again features a very simple and tasteful guitar solo. It’s not all magical mayhem though as the titular “Under the Blood Moon” demonstrates. A more personal affair, the tracks speak to Luca’s experiences growing up in a deprived household with an LGBT parent, and his pride in his family. Musically this is a standout track, being quite a complicated and diverse composition with multiple shifts in tempo and atmosphere.

Forming a ten-minute conceptual opus, the twin tracks “Samhain Dawn” and “Samhain Night” drag us kicking and screaming towards the album’s crushing conclusion. The former a twisted slow meditation with eery chants hiding in the dark, the latter a more spaced out Doomy groover, heralding the final banger “Mass at Dungeon Rock” which nicely caps off these thirty-seven minutes of good humoured violence.

Despite my initial reservations over the vocal levels, the album is nicely produced, it does have a lo-fi ethic, but this is sleazy low-down stuff, and it works perfectly. Rhythm section players Devin Fields (bass) and Chris Kobialka (drums) are an impressive powerhouse, driving forward the quite superb, detuned sounds of guitarist Marco Medina who, while completely eschewing showy guitar solos or complex riffs, captures the feeling of impending doom the album very successfully conveys.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Devils Work
2. The Witches
3. Old Man Satan
4. Nocturnal Eternal
5. Under the Blood Moon
6. Samhain Dawn
7. Samhain Night
8. Mass at Dungeon Rock
Lineup:
Adam Luca - Vocals
Marco Medina - Lead Guitar
Chris Kobialka - Drums
Devin Fields – Bass
Record Label: Ripple Music
     


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