Iron Man

I Have Returned

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Eerily like the mythical character described in the Black Sabbath song that provided their name, Gaithersburg, MD's Iron Man have often dwelled in obscurity ("We'll just pass him there, why should we even care?") for the bulk of their 20-plus-year career; but after a full decade without stepping into a recording studio ("Planning his vengeance, that he will soon unfold…"), the group arose from its proverbial grave for the release of 2009's I Have Returned ("Iron Man lives again!"). Or at least guitarist and lone remaining founding member Al Morris III did, proceeding to surround himself with an entirely new cast of henchmen in vocalist Joe Donnelly, bassist Louis Strachan, and drummer Dex Dexter -- all of them ready to flesh out his latest, Iommi-esque power chord visions. Donnelly, in particular, brings a frighteningly accurate Ozzy impersonation to bear, but inspired standouts like "Burn the Sky," "Run for the Light" (note the gloriously slothful riff spanning its mid-section), and the energetic, curiously named "Blind-Sighted Forward Spiral" easily transcend mere sonic parody with their imaginative reshuffling of doom's timeless template. And, naturally, it's Morris who holds court throughout with his incredibly leaden, ultra-distorted rhythm work and incendiary solos, which prove to be the highlight of cuts like "Sodden with Sin" and "Fallen Angel" (an interlude named "Days of Olde" also showcases his command of acoustic guitar). A slight second half dip in quality (not counting the explosive finale delivered by "Among the Filth and Slime") demotes I Have Returned beneath the band's best ‘90s efforts, but this is still a very impressive and much appreciated comeback from one of the American doom movement's favorite sons.

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