Ironweed

Indian Ladder

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Ironweed's debut album, Indian Ladder, was named after a wilderness area just west of the group's native Albany, NY, but their steel-plated heavy rock style has little in common with the great outdoors, in most every other sense. Surely it's eco-friendly and all that, but there's still enough electricity coursing through these songs to start a sizeable forest fire, so let's hope the band's bookings don't involve too many outdoor festivals. All kidding aside, Ironweed's music generally straddles the borderline between groovy stoner rock and straight up heavy metal, meaning mid-paced, head-nodding affairs like "Rid the Earth" and the wah-wah pedal-happy "Penny for Your Prayers" are evenly matched against more aggressive, riff-driven juggernauts like "This Faithless Will" and "Death of Me." But Ironweed are even more prone to blur the lines between the two, by mashing both tendencies together into single songs like "A World Away," "Thorn," and "Vertigo," which, coincidentally tend to be album standouts. Or else, they strike into less predictable territory with the rather funky "Lost and Forgotten," whose jumpy main riff harks back to the early '90s funk metal craze, or "Disconnect," whose doom-like chorus sounds a little out of sorts, but works nevertheless. But if one had to pick the strongest suit to hang Ironweed's potential success on, it would have to be singer Jeff Andrews, whose emotionally charged delivery and frankly stupendous range, could really help the band stand out from the post-stoner rock pack, and improve their crossover appeal, to boot. They still aren't likely to sniff the charts with guitars this vicious and carnivorous, but one can safely predict that many a fan of heavy-ass rock & roll will be including Indian Ladder on their best-of 2008 list.

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