Hailing from Canada, Iron Dogs is a primal force of speed metal. Adorned with bullet belts and the influences of their underground heroes, this current 2-piece band has just unleashed their second record, “Free and Wild”. Though I have no doubt this will be an instant hit with fans of the 80’s heavy metal and USPM scenes, this record actually did not have such an effect on me. It is clear that there is a certain punkish DIY charm to the album, but that doesn’t mean its flaws can be ignored.
The first major issue with this record is the production, and more specifically, the guitars. Not only are the guitars louder than everything else, but they are completely powerless. To call them razor thin doesn’t quite do justice to how poor the guitar tone is. And this doesn’t even apply to the lower-end; it’s only when more melodic bits show up that this tone is frustrating. It sounds amateurish, and despite being no expert musician myself, I could get a far more impressive metal tone out of my own rig. The other issue with the guitars is the dependence on melodic licks as opposed to riffs. There are definitely a ton of riff-driven parts to this record, but every single song is littered with melodic leads to the point of redundancy. Normally, I have no issue with leads like this, but some of these leads are less than impressive. Any musicians out there will know that when they first got started, they came up with melodies that didn’t make a ton of theoretical sense, but they also didn’t sound good. This can include things like using tons of chromatic sequences of notes, as well as using less common choices for harmonies, and Iron Dogs do both of these often. To clarify, I’m not saying it’s a problem when bands don’t follow music theory, but it’s usually pretty easy for a riff to pass the “ear-test”, and I suppose that these melodies did for Iron Dogs, but they don't for me. If the band laid off on the constant melody, this record would be far better for it.
To be fair to Iron Dogs, they have a lot of things going for them. The vocals are great. They are a prime example of someone who is not the most technically skilled, but puts in a lot of effort to give a convincing performance. In that sense, their vocalist reminds me a lot of Lips from Anvil because there is a lot of character in the singing on this album. The other great thing about “Free and Wild” is its Motorhead-like energy. The songs are upbeat, raw, and fairly stripped-down. You aren’t going to be wowed by the prowess of the musicians, but the band doesn’t set out to do that. Despite my complaints, this is a band with a lot of potential, and there’s no doubt that “Free and Wild” will appeal to a very specific crowd. If you have any interest in the heyday of old-school heavy metal, give this record a chance.
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3.5/5 or 70%.
Written by Scott