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Iron Swan @ Scruffy Murphy’s, Birmingham

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WORDS: David Creamer

Grabbing themselves a headline slot playing at the legendary pub Scruffy Murphy’s in Birmingham, IRON SWAN came to shake the venue to its very foundations, destroy the hearing capabilities of people’s ears and also deliver people to their gloomy world of occult themed, sludge styled doom.

Kicking off a sadly short lived tour in promotion of their self-titled debut LP to a monstrous start, the Nottingham lads in IRON SWAN followed their performance after an unusual mix of grindcore and other sludge bands, a line-up providing a combination of two opposite extremes. Going from an ultra-fast start, to an earthshattering slowness.

As the tour promoted their debut release, their set consisted of the album played in its entirety, giving everybody a taste of its 45 minutes of their fuzz laden riffage. As is custom with their live performances, a heavy use of incense is made, contributing to their doom and gloom attitude, yet still being easy on the nose. The gig space in Scruffy’s is very intimate, many audience members being inches away from the towers of amplifiers, yet despite this, combined with the heavy distortion, each note and chord played is fully defined and audible, whilst still smacking you in the face with an onslaught of sound. As it is a doom show, there is hardly any movement on part of the audience or the band, but that is to be expected as the main focus is atmosphere. With the ambient lighting, a thick fog of smoke and the smell of incense permeating the air, the music definitely transports you to another plain. Full of witches, blues influenced riffs and delightful feedback reminiscent of EYEHATEGOD.

One of the only drawbacks to this show, was the lack of volume in the vocals. Although main vocalist Benjamin Luke Gaten’s piercing screeches were easily heard and discernible, Pedi Esfandiari’s voice was sadly non-existent in the mix, whilst Thom Stone’s were also just barely treading above the thick sludgy waters. But this was not too much of an issue with regards to their sound, as vocals are simply just the icing on the cake, the main focus is the instrumentation and the music. With the clear pounding of the drums dredging the tastefully fuzz riffs forward, this slight hiccup in vocal volume is made up for in sheer heaviness.

Filling the basement of Scruffy’s rather nicely, IRON SWAN attracted a rather healthy crowd of doom revellers down from lounging around upstairs with their massive sound. This was to be expected, with many of the songs that they performed giving you an irresistible urge to bob your head along and go with the flow. This band is certainly an act that you will definitely need to place on your radar, especially those who are fans of the likes of ELECTRIC WIZARD, EYEHATEGOD and THE MELVINS. And with the impending release of their debut album drawing ever closer and closer, you best get on it and check them out!

Rating: 7/10

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Jessica Howkins

Co Editor-in-Chief for Distorted Sound Magazine, Music Journalism student.