Texas natives Iron Age return with their second long-player, The Sleeping Eye, after making quite a name for themselves with 2006s Constant Struggle. The bands debut was highlighted by an onslaught of blistering crossover accented by classic hardcore undertones. With their new release, Iron Age builds on that foundation and adds some depth to their sound.
What continues to strike me most about The Sleeping Eye - and Iron Age in general for that matter - is their ability to create a vintage sound, and yet still sound fresh. Whatever their plan of attack in their songwriting process is, it seems to be working out rather well for them.
The Sleeping Eye of the Watcher kicks things off without any messing around; it is led off with a dominating performance by the guitarists before vocalist Jason Tarpey asserts himself with his graveling throat. As with the previous venture, its thrashy riffs and dynamic drumming leading the way. The group harkens back to their hardcore lineage with a drawn out thundering breakdown towards the end of the track, which also features the unique placement of what sounds like Gregorian chant.
Throughout the album Iron Age offers up a sound that fits with what listeners have come to expect. Their guitars boast a definite mid-80s thrash/crossover sound. The rhythm section is solid throughout; the drumming is especially proficient, as it keeps up perfectly with the fast-paced nature of the guitars. The vocals add a lot of aggression to the end product as Tarpey sounds as pissed as ever.
There is a bit of experimentation from the group on The Sleeping Eye. In the midst of the album is Materia Prima, an ambient interlude. When the group works in the meandering, drone moments in between and in the background of songs they work, but this just feels a bit forced and out of place. At over eleven minutes, the closing number of The Way is Narrow sees Iron Age at their most broad-minded. The elongated jam incorporates equal parts Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Sleep. Its quite a venture with a lot of different pieces, but it works quite well for the band as a whole.
The Sleeping Eye sees Iron Age pushing the boundaries of their sound in new directions. This further expansion of their songwriting with new influences allows the band to define themselves as a more unique musical venture. It works most of the time, though there is a fine line for this type of evolution within the hardcore punk world - Black Flag and Fucked Up come to mind - and Iron Age is currently on the brink.
7.5 / 10
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