Review Summary: Loincloth disappeared well before even making a name for themselves, making "Iron Balls of Steel" not only a great return, but a great debut as well.
What’s this" An actual Loincloth LP" Yes that’s right, after dropping 12 minutes worth of material nearly a decade ago, instrumental metal act, Loincloth, have finally stepped from the shadows and shed the mystique, releasing their debut record, Iron Balls of Steel
. Formed in 2000, the band released one EP and one 7”, and then simply faded into obscurity. But those morsels somehow made their way into the ears of many, and over the years Loincloth have made a bit of a name for themselves, despite a significant absence. However, this is indicative of the promise and skill displayed on the band’s early material. The same promise and skill that shines brilliantly on Iron Balls of Steel
Although the technical prowess and overall fresh execution on the album are wonderful things to hear, Loincloth share quite a lot with the recent glut of instrumental metal acts. Chugging and noodling seep out of every orifice, and the overall blistering pace and oppressive atmosphere comes off as a bit derivative. One would be hard pressed to avoid conjuring thoughts of Scale the Summit, Animals as Leaders, and An Endless Sporadic. Yet whereas the aforementioned bands tend to err on the side of sounding far too “technical” for technicality’s sake, Loincloth play it fairly conservative. Incessant bouts of guitar wankery are kept to a minimum, as the instrumentalists focus more on practical songwriting, keeping their ambitions in check. Not a minute of the album is wasted, as each of the sixteen tracks is streamlined, lovingly and cautiously cared for.
Iron Balls of Steel
, despite the ludicrous name, is a dense and serious album. The oppressively heavy nature shares a lot with Meshuggah, while the quick pace feels reminiscent of bands like Blotted Science. With a runtime of nearly 40 minutes, the album blazes by, with nary a track slowing things down. Songs like “Scatopus” and “Theme” are quick polyrhythmic explosions of bass heavy metal, and are pretty much emblematic of how the entire record sounds. This is where Iron Balls of Steel
feels a bit lacking. Sure the brief songs and rapid fire pace is a nice change from the band’s peers, whose songs meander seemingly endlessly, but it’s all at the cost of musical variability. At times the album is painfully homogenous, as it never takes a break from its established sound. While each song is played expertly, a little bit of intrigue would have gone a long way in making the album much more captivating.
It’s a wonderful thing, seeing Loincloth rise from the inky black abyss of uncertainty and crafting a fantastic debut record in the process. While it isn’t without its faults, Iron Balls of Steel
is a bold statement; a declaration that an instrumental metal powerhouse has finally returned, primed to stand tall with the genre’s heavy hitters.