Review Summary: Southern rock at its most genuine and soulful.
Arkansas-based Iron Tongue hearken back to the days when loud guitar acts didn't steer clear of emotional resonance. Embraced by Neurosis' very own record label, Neurot, the septet comprised of Little Rock's veteran musicians have come up with a stunning Southern rock album that shows deep reverence for tradition, continuously oscillating between the Blue Cheer proto-metal spirit and Cream-esque heavy blues. The most obvious point of reference, though, may be the riff-centered back catalogue of Down since the perpetual heaviness and sombre mood are also central attributes of this collective's aesthetic. To distinguish themselves from NOLA's finest, Iron Tongue try a more jam-like approach to songcraft, which makes their output way more expansive if no less soulful and approachable.
While countless albums of so-called supergroups can be regarded as hurriedly put-together, cheap cash grabs, The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown
proves that the three long years taken for these seven songs to crystalize on stage haven't been wasted. Sinewy guitar leads, slogging mid-tempo rhythms and Hammond organ provide a formidable backdrop for muscular vocals of Chris Terry whose performance greatly differs from his work with swampy sludge masters, Rwake. Instead of providing menacing raspy howls, Terry opts for a gnarly full-throated delivery which lends the music its emotional intensity. The singer pours his heart and soul into every single song. His previously undiscovered range shines through opener “Ever After,” a bitter break-up tune that sees him skillfully building up tension till the devastating final cry ensues with emotive guitar soloing to match. Although this track is a decent showcase of the act's abilities, it doesn't really represent Iron Tongue's entire musical arsenal. “Witchery” stomps with the pristine doom metal riff laced with the driving rhythm. “Skeleton” begins impetuously only to dissolve into Terry's tortured lament thereby making good use of non-linear dynamics. Elsewhere, the outfit's admirable songwriting prowess propels “Lioness” which has as much in common with Southern rock as with vintage soul, containing high-pitched female vocals that occasionally crop up throughout the album to enrich the listening experience.
At once coarse and vulnerable, The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown
reeks of searing existential pain. The message is to fight against impending doom instead of giving up. The record's allure lies in the fact that this struggle to overcome personal demons feels entirely genuine complete with inspired arrangements and Terry's bruised vocals. With their introspective style, Iron Tongue are hardly interested in blazing new trails in underground music. However, their debut full-length is imbued with enough confidence, ferocity and soul to make a profound impression on heavy rock fans.