Iron Man

Black Night

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Maryland doomsters Iron Man proclaimed their unapologetic Black Sabbath worship to the planet at large with this 1993 debut album, Black Knight, which capped a five-year apprenticeship and steady rise through the ranks of the competitive local heavy metal scene. It was well worth the wait, though, since that lengthy apprenticeship refined the band's performance chops and spawned an absolutely stellar collection of songs that was pretty much all killer, no filler. Led by guitarist, chief songwriter, and overall guiding force Al Morris III, galloping power chord stallions like "Choices," "Life After Death," and the magnificent "The Liar" essentially take over where Black Sabbath's Mob Rules left off, and invariably contain positively sizzling lead runs capable of making Tony Iommi himself cry. Not to be outdone, the title track takes its boot off the gas somewhat; "Time for Change" tempers its attack at first and then sounds all the more formidable once it kicks into full gear; the mildly bluesy "Leaving Town" shakes things up with ample wah-wah pedal abuse and, later, a lysergic psychedelic section; and "Vampires" interpolates sound effects and news reports to tell its horrid tale more effectively. Curiously, at the time of Black Knight's release, singer Rob Levey was occasionally singled out as Iron Man's weak link, and indeed he would be dismissed within the year (later to become a successful concert booking impresario, in charge of the Stoner Hands of Doom festivals), but his somewhat strained (see "Why Can't You See Me?") yet earnestly emotive performance was certainly no worse than Ozzy Osbourne's. In fact, it sounds rather ideally suited to Iron Man's sound all these years later, and definitely contributes to Black Knight's enduring and consistent ranking among the '90s very best doom albums.

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