Ironweed

Your World of Tomorrow

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The signs really were hidden in plain sight on Ironweed's 2008 debut, Indian Ladder (referred to as "metallic stoner rock"), but the Albany, New York band's sophomore return, Your World of Tomorrow, wipes away any doubt of their intense Soundgarden worship, particularly once the falsettos start flying (see "The Lucky Ones," "Awaken") and the guitar riffs start grinding into cyclopean spin cycles ("Heavy Crowns," "Red Circles," etc.) that would not sound all that misplaced on Chris Cornell and company's 1989 breakthrough, Louder Than Love. Back then, '90s alt rock was of course just a glimmer in Kurt Cobain's glazed eye (its precursor, college rock, was still trying to pass final exams), so it was not uncommon for listeners to lump guitar-centric outfits like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and even Jane's Addiction into the all-encompassing heavy metal category (don't forget that Jane's was actually in the running for a heavy metal Grammy in 1989). But then, once that gaggle of grunge gods wiped the music fashion slate clean and proceeded to wipe the floor with all metal bands -- the good, the bad, and the ugly, ugly glam ones -- even mentioning "alternative" and "metal" in the same sentence became nigh impossible. Now, two decades hence, it seems that the time has finally thawed out intra-genre enmity enough so that this musical odd couple can share tight quarters once again, and that's essentially what's happening all over Your World of Tomorrow (and many other contemporary albums out there), even though the aforementioned songs (most of them stacked in the album's second half) generally sound like second-rate Soundgarden wannabes. No, this album's vastly redeeming highlights -- namely "Now Stronger," "Enduring Snakes," and "A Graceful Death" -- are those that blend their alt metallic influences far less conspicuously and come up with much more individual, flowing, monsta-grooves instead. Another standout, "Messenger," shifts from brutish power chords to sensitive acoustic parts with astonishing ease, while "And the New Slaves" can't entirely make good on its hugely promising, seductive psychedelic intro, but sure comes damn close. The same is true, in broader terms, about Ironweed's second album as a whole: its songwriting inconsistencies and minor personality disorders forbid it from measuring up to the band's first, but it's a close call and, let's not forget, that first was pretty darn good.

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