Wrought Iron – Rejoice and Transcend (Grimoire Records, 24 June 2014)
Ever since the band was formed (which was at the end of 2011), and especially since they started playing live shows (the following spring), there’s been a significant amount of buzz surrounding Wrought Iron within Pittsburgh’s underground music scene. People who’ve caught their live shows (often appearing with some pretty big names, like Abigail Williams, Absu, Alcest, Dying Fetus, False, and Nachtmystium, just to name a few) have reported being spellbound by the ferocity as well as the raw talent on display.
Well, that — and one other thing too. It seems like whenever this band is being discussed, the performance of vocalist Kenny Snyder often gets brought up; several times I’ve witnessed certain people (without mentioning anyone specifically, but I will say it’s almost always been members of other local bands) trying to imitate the combined snarl-shriek-squawk that these folks affectionately refer to as “like a dying pterodactyl.”
Anyway. I personally may have been a little bit late to the party, but after hearing them recommended so highly for so long, I finally got the chance to see Wrought Iron last summer (and a couple more times since then). I was very impressed by what I saw and heard — they definitely lived up to the hype, no question about that. Fast-forward another year, and we find the band recording an album with Maryland’s Grimoire Records, which is being released digitally (as well as on CD or cassette) today.
Ever since the first time I heard this band’s name, I thought it was really cool — since “wrought iron” literally refers to blackened metal that’s been hammered and twisted into various shapes. And what better way could there be to describe their music than that: built on a foundation of death metal riffs and grindcore tempo/rhythm shifts, then smothered in the atmosphere and aesthetic of black metal.
Opening track “Dawn of the Swamp” encapsulates all of these various elements: some awesome riffs, drummer Nick Tupi executing several breakneck shifts from blastbeats to heavier and slower parts, and a blend of gutteral death growls with blackened shrieks and screams. Some of my other favorite tracks include “Danse Macabre,” which is based around some cool tremoloed riffs that have guitarist Nick Lucci bouncing all over the fretboard; “Brine” and “Revelation and Awakening,” which each open up with some ultra-heavy “invisible grapefruit” moments; and closer “Coyote” which serves up some nice dark atmosphere (as well as ending with some particularly excellent pterodactyl screeches from Kenny).
One common fear, when it comes to bands who put on as good of a show as these guys do, is that a studio recording might be disappointing — that it won’t be able to do them justice by capturing the same energy they have onstage. Well, no such worries here. Grimoire co-owners Noel Mueller and Phil Doccolo have managed to reproduce on tape every bit of furor and rage the band gives off in a live setting. Besides that, they’ve successfully walked the fine line between coming out either too hi-fi or too lo-fi: the overall sound quality is great, and every instrument or vocal part comes across very clearly (even the bass is usually audible, a rarity within this genre; “König von Scheisse” even features a solo from bassist Brooks Criswell!), but at the same time, by tweaking the EQ ever so slightly (or whatever kind of studio magic they used), the recording still has enough grit and grime to give it an authentically unpolished black metal vibe.
* * * * * * *
The release of Rejoice and Transcend is being officially celebrated tomorrow night — Wednesday, the 25th of June at Howlers Coyote Cafe on Liberty Ave in Bloomfield (Pittsburgh).
The show will include Begrime Exemious (death metal from Edmonton, AB — on Dark Descent Records), Post Mortal Possession (a new-ish Pittsburgh tech-death band), and Cryptic Yeast (thrash-grind from NY state, taking a night off from their current tour with Starve).
Find more details about the Wrought Iron album release show right here.
You can stream two of the album’s songs using the Bandcamp widget below (and downloads/CDs/cassettes are available through the Grimoire Records Bandcamp page here).
* * * * * * *