Pittsburgh has many things going for it. There have been decades of great sports triumphs with the Steelers and Penguins winning multiple championships. The city transformed itself from a smoky, steel-producing behemoth to one of the most picturesque places in America with a thriving healthcare industry. It’s more than a place that just puts fries on a sandwich.
There also is a deep pool of killer bands, from long-running death metal warriors Derketa, to grinders Complete Failure and Hero Destroyed, to hardcore punchers Code Orange (no longer Kids!), Killer of Sheep, and sadly defunct Heartless, to classic throwbacks such as Ladybeast, to gnarly mind-benders including Meth Quarry and Storm King. There’s a ton here for heavy music fans, and though you might not know that if you rely too heavily on local media (they like Bob Dylan, you see), if you know where to look, you can find tons of ways to get your head beaten in and your eardrums permanently defaced. Seriously, I just rattled off some top-of-my-head shit above. Dig deeply into our city, and you’ll find so much buried treasure.
Now come Wrought Iron, a band that you can see opening locally for national headliners like Absu, Pyrrhon, and Vattnet Viskar and totally holding up their end of the deal. It’s hard to figure out exactly how to label these dudes, but they splatter death, black, doom, grind, and noise metal every time they play, and if you ever watched this band destroy a room, you know exactly why they’re one of Pittsburgh’s great metallic hopes. The band cuts a pretty straight path through the room when they play, and while they don’t subscribe to any silly histrionics, their ability to remain content while pummeling you with their power and heaviness is a real drawing card. That same sense comes across on their new album “Rejoice and Transcend,” their debut for the always reliable Grimoire Records and one of the nastiest things to slither out of this city in some time.
The people responsible for this unholy racket are four men who don’t seem to have anyone’s best interests in mind, including their own. Vocalist Kenny Snyder, one of the more unpredictable, prowling figures in this town, a dude you’re not quite sure if he’s just getting into the character of a song or if he’s thinking about you assaulting outright in front of a roomful of witnesses. Guitarist Nick Lucci keeps thing dark and captivating, taking time to open up some wounds and twist your scars and scabs. The rhythm section of bassist Brooks Criswell (also of other Pittsburgh pounders Oh Shit They’re Going to Kill Us and Circle of Dead Children) and drummer Nick Tupi are a formidable unit that keeps the low end brutal and could make your heart feel like it’s about to explode inside your chest cavity. You feel their intensity both live and on their record, and they have the ability to be a band that puts Pittsburgh in a bloodier, more respectful position on extreme metal’s map.
“Dawn of the Swamp” greets you like a mouthful of fire to the face, with a fast, devastating drumming, vocals that sound so unhinged, a doctor probably could prescribe proper medication just by hearing them, and swirling black metal riffs that dizzy and crush. “White Death” unloads buckets of blasts and lightning-fast riffs that make perfect compatriots for the maniacal vocals that are so discomforting, they could have you clawing at your skin. “Danse Macabre” is one of the most impressive songs in the band’s catalog, as it is built on sinister riffs, death-like thrashing that is tasty and meaty, goblin-torture vocals, and even some aggressively proggy work that shows these guys are capable players along with decibolic butchers. “Brine” has a slow-driving, bone-crushing personality, with vocals that could welt your eyelids, and as the piece progresses, it becomes sludgy and full of muck. “Konig von Scheisse” has an awesome, explosive riff tied to it, it’s thrash-infested and clubbing, and the crazed frenzy that the track becomes could leave you hearing voices.
“Revelation and Awakening” has guitar lines that catch fire and deface the path in front of it, while the vocals are guttural and evil, with Snyder howling, “You are the chosen one,” almost as if he means it in mockery and pure disgust. “Descendant” explodes open, with the drums leading the way and causing a fracas, and the vocals again giving reason to believe the person letting the words fall out of his mouth might be ripe for examination. The song is gurgly, wholly violent, and a perfect representation of what makes Wrought Iron so good. “Impulse Hangover” which is a tremendous song title, has a punk rock ethos to it, and it’s a firebreather. Yet the band explores space a little more than before, with the guitars becoming spacious and atmospheric, but underneath it all is that seamy, ugly sentiment that inhabits all of their songs. Closer “Coyote” also is a bit more experimental, but with all eyes focused on bloodshed nonetheless. After some fog is let in, and moisture beads the trees, the band works toward lighting all of that on fire, with calculating madness, filthy darkness, and the final barked vocals from a man on the edge who you’re not sure has gone through catharsis or just pushed himself closer to finality.
Wrought Iron is one of Pittsburgh’s most devastating bands, and up to now, we’ve mostly had the band to our selfish own. They’re capable of pushing beyond city limits and out into the great unknown, where they can bloody faces, sicken the masses, and remind people that metal can be nasty, dangerous, and bad for your health. They are making sure people hear their violence and will force those with the heads in the sand to pay heed to “Rejoice and Transcend”. They’re a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth beast live, and they manage to translate that chaos to their album as menacingly as possible.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wroughtironpgh
To buy the album, go here: http://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/rejoice-and-transcend
For more on the label, go here: http://www.grimoirerecords.com/
Oh, hey, if you’re lucky enough to be in Pittsburgh June 25, you can check out Wrought Iron’s album release show at Howler’s in Bloomfield. Show starts at 8 p.m., and there’s a $7 cover. Also on the bill are Post Mortal Possession, Begrime Exemious, and Cryptic Yeast.