Jeff Andrews: vocals, guitar
Mike Vitali: guitar
Brendan Slater: bass
Dan Dinsmore: drums
All songs written by Ironweed.
Additional Vocals on "Messenger" by Mike Vitali.
Recorded at Mad Oak Studios & O Studios
Produced and recorded by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios, Allston, MA.
Additional engineers: Ryan Slowly, John Delahanti, Carl Blackwood, Mike Vitali, Dusten Pettengill
Mixed by Benny Grotto and J. Saliba at Mad Oak Studios, Allston, MA.
Mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio Labs, Ann Arbor, MI.
Illustration & album artwork:
Alexander von Wieding, zeichentier.com
Jeff plays Gibson guitars and uses Peavy 5150 & Mesa Boogie amplifiers.
Mike plays Gibson Guitars and uses Marshall, Mesa boogie & Electric Amp amplifiers
Brendan plays Stingray Basses and uses Orange Amplifiers.
Dan plays Spaun drums.
Ironweed don't want you to think like everyone else. Luckily, they've provided a manual on how to tolerate the mundane just until you can get home, crack a beer, and sneer in the face of conformists. The album's cover says plenty (unfold the album's insert and it says much more) about its message. This concept album wastes no time in grabbing your collar and doing everything it can to keep you from becoming another automaton. Don't buy in, pig. Don't buy in.
You can call Your World of Tomorrow a departure from Ironweed's sound, strongly established on 2008's Indian Ladder, but you'd be neglecting the band's strides. You can't call it stoner-metal, you can't call it grunge, you can't even call it terribly unsettling until you focus on the lyrics. The influences permeate the disc without detracting from the band's vision. Is this what post-grunge might've sounded like if it hadn't had a false sense of entitlement? One wonders.
Now Stronger wastes absolutely no time in combining dusty groove with cock-rock vocals and that distant sunset guitar we cream our jeans over. Timing on the track (and throughout the disc) is perfect, a testament to impeccable production. Guitars here are roman candles, finding a discernible pattern while seemingly spraying everything with good-time flames. The rhythm never relents, setting the tone for an aggressive, poignant collection of tracks that leaves listeners thinking about their lives as they raise the horns.
Your World of Tomorrow is swollen with feedback, fuzz, and bounce, fueled by drums that remain steady at the forefront despite Jeff Andrews's brilliant classic-rock auditions. The vocals sail on Enduring Snakes as Mike Vitali's anthemic licks channel Kim Thayil's Jesus Christ Pose fretwork and the rhythm slices down sequoias. Listen to Awaken and you'll again hear Soundgarden, but you'll be surprised where the song goes, almost taking elements from HUM before the death-growl (out of nowhere) guides the listener through a rain-soaked funeral.
Dan Dinsmore's drums keep things modest here. The rhythm section (let's not ignore Slater's bass) does more in these forty minutes than most bands do in a career. The groove on both The Lucky Ones and Messenger chews up preconceptions, finding elements of doom and heart-thumping blur. These songs could be ballads if they were totally lame. Fortunately, they're not. On a short street, these songs click through gear after gear and sing no apology for the noise.
Two songs perfectly balance the album's mood and motivation; And the New Slaves paces the album well, though the listener quickly realizes this band doesn't give a shit about pacing. What's important here is the dreary dreaminess the track pretends not to seek. Admit it, guys... This song's brilliant, you know it, and you want the entire world to hear it. Guitars fight with one another, riffs slice through bone, and skin-slaps warn of the drag-race romp you're about to run from. Drums cheese out, spit, and fade into space. The song begins like Catamaran from Kyuss and ends like QOTSA's I was a Teenage Hand Model. Let's be clear... I don't have a problem with how the song begins, ends, or what's in-between. Neither will you.
On the other hand, Red Circles is C.O.C. guitar grind, with the song's final minute serving as one of the most head-twitching tracks I expect to hear this year. The guitars are sawing pines and hiding behind veils, all at once. The track goes in every direction, often at the drop of a hat. Love it.
The concept on Your World of Tomorrow is great, while the band's sound has evolved. Ironweed have struck an incredible balance between their instruments, creating a sound that is confident, honest, and ultimately indisputable. The production of the album is slick, the track selection is dead-on. It doesn't matter who people say this band kinda sounds like (Kyuss, Soundgarden, HUM, C.O.C.) because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Ironweed have put together an album that's meaningful without being pretentious, heavy without being over-stuffed, and precise without being clean. What a cool vibe.
I had a hard time writing a review about 'Your World Of Tomorrow', because once again IRONWEED's heavy brew causes very mixed emotions within me. That was already the case after covering the band's debut 'Indian Ladder', that has also been released by Small Stone Records in 2008. Since then, three years have passed and once again I am torn between joyous thrills and sheer boredom. One reason is that IRONWEED's songs lull in the zone somewhere between top-notch and utter triviality. In addition, it seems to me as if they are trying to put too many song ideas into one. The resulting complexity of course is intended and from a technical point of view, IRONWEED cut a fine figure.
Powered by the edgy fuzzy sounds of two guitars, the band shows off its tight interplay and it did not take listeners long to find that these guys fit nicely alongside Solace. That's also because of the fact that IRONWEED blend heavy metal, hardrock, doom metal, and hardcore in a similar way. But unfortunately it doesn't always result in great songs. On the plus side, there is 'A Graceful Death' and 'Awaken' that both show IRONWEED's ear for melody.
Especially vocalist/guitarist Jeff Andrews does a fantastic job here with a crisp clean voice that is haunting and soulful. His unique vocal stylings are giving 'Awaken' a sharper profile, emphasizing the metal edge in IRONWEED. The same could be said about 'Now Stronger' that is another favorite of mine on this album. But there are also some tunes where everything sounds a little bit too contrived for my taste. I miss a compelling idea or some memorable hooks. What remains in my memory is just a bunch of heavy riffs but nothing more. As I have said, it's difficult for me to make up a clear opinion about 'Your World Of Tomorrow'. To me, it is a double-edged sword even when IRONWEED still offers much promising potential.
If there is one record label on this rock 'n' roll world that truly embodies the Uber Rock spirit then it is Small Stone, the independent yet awesome home of, seemingly, a million cool bands that operates out of Detroit. A badass buzz accompanies every new release from the label that turns up for review, barely a mediocre moment amongst their collective selves, solid records being the worst thing I could say about the releases of the bands on their roster. Sometimes something special happens, Sasquatch and Gozu special, and that has happened again....
Ironweed have followed up their 2008 debut, 'Indian Ladder', with an album that came out of nowhere and has firmly implanted itself on my stereo ever since. The New York band's sophomore album, 'Your World Of Tomorrow', is themed around a near-future totalitarian state where governments control the people by way of electronic devices. It's hardly an original statement for sure, but it is certainly a passionate one, an idea that prickles the consciousness of anyone with a spine, soul and refusal to simply accept their lot in life. The fact that this warning is played out by heavy-duty veteran rock musicians just gets me every time. It's the primitive against the perfect, like perversely taking photographs of dereliction with a state of the art digital camera, like devouring a musty, well read copy of Fahrenheit 451; I do these things, perhaps that is why this album has resonated so with me on more than just a musical level.
That, though, is by no means a dismissal of the hard hitting sounds that make up this nine track album. The rock associated with Small Stone can generally be preceded by the words stoner, space or desert - not this time. Ironweed have fashioned a sound for themselves that harks back to the more metal-tinged outfits that got lumped into the grunge scene, possibly having a little more in common with the few metal bands who jumped on the grunge bandwagon and got away with it without embarrassing themselves. The Alice In Chains and Soundgarden comparisons will, and have, come and, although Ironweed are soundalikes for neither, the aesthetics behind those bands throw up the grouping, the latter especially, for one big reason.
Ironweed vocalist Jeff Andrews has been blessed with an incredible set of pipes. The Chris Cornell/Soundgarden comparison comes solely from this, a fantastic voice wailing out over noisy, dirty, grungy rock. At times Andrews' vocals soar in a fashion that throws up images of Ian Gillan or Glenn Hughes fronting, not classic rock bands, but edgy, dangerous, gutsy metal; the great 'Heavy Crowns', with its fly trap "Your truth is inverted" refrain, for example. The hook of 'The Lucky Ones' is so infectious that when I think of my favourite songs of the year so far I just can't shake this fucker from my memory. The chorus is as infectious and life changing as a zombie bite but, and this is where I get even more interested, the verses are like prime Warrior Soul. Kory Clarke's mob come to mind on several occasions during playback of 'Your World Of Tomorrow', possibly because of the lethal combination of ass-kicking music and political angst.
There are more sedate moments here also; 'And The New Slaves' features subtle verses that remind me of Paul Draper and Mansun. By the time you get to album closer 'A Graceful Death', introduced by heavy, gorgeous bass, you will, if like me, be so impressed that moving for the repeat button is as essential as breathing. Seriously, I have not listened to this album just once since it turned up for review.
I love albums like 'Your World Of Tomorrow', coming from out of nowhere and blowing everything away. That things like this still happen in a music business that grooms anorexic automatons for a life of tabloid misery is both assuring and awesome. This will trouble my album of the year list for one simple reason; it is a stunner.
- Gaz E
The expectations towards Small Stone releases remain unchangeable. One can always anticipate a massive-sounding, heavy-on-groove, ballsy stoner metal. This rule also applies to the Albany outfit, Ironweed. Their debut, “Indian Ladder,” combined heavy stoner metal with some grunge and tribal stylings (hence the name of the disc). The songwriting was often devoid of focus though, which resulted in a quite uneven album that comprised of several standout tracks out of which “A Penny For Your Prayers” was arguably the most notable.
“Your World Of Tomorrow” showcases the band's improved approach to song craft, with an abundance of oppressively heavy guitar-driven sections which are reminiscent of their debut. The new disc sounds more cerebral even though the concept of it is dead serious. It revolves around the idea of the government being able to control people by using advanced electronic devices. Although this theme is hardly original, Ironweed manage to handle it with grace delivering fitting lyrics and infusing every track with a somewhat apocalyptic vibe. In fact, the disc has its distinct sombre style that pays tribute to a wide range of artists including both stoner rock and heavy metal acts.
The album's soundscape is obviously very sludge-oriented, yet stylistically it resembles heavy grunge of Alice In Chains origin rather than Kyuss-inspired fuzz rock. The motoric guitar riffs are frequently accompanied with harmonized soloing that, along with a pummeling rhythm section, evokes an apocalyptic vibe in the majority of compositions. Given that, there are some traditonal heavy metal undertones that especially surface in the vocals of Jeff Andrews who delivers a top-notch performance that ranges from seductively melodic to brazen and aggressive.
The first half of the disc is particularly impressive with several high-octane tunes that verge on being classic. “Now Stronger” makes for an amazing opener owing to its brisk pace coupled with a totally anthemic tone. You just can't help, but raise your fists high up in the air to this expertly conceived rocker. “Enduring Snakes” uses more conventional galloping stoner metal riffs to great effect, whereas “And The New Slaves” reveals a more vulnerable side of the band adding some welcome progressive elements to the table. It startlingly contrasts with “Awaken” which is basically a full fledged homage to classic heavy metal artists aside from being the most upbeat track on the disc.
The strengths of “Your World Of Tomorrow” may not be evident from the very get-go. The album certainly requires a number of listens to truly sink in. Once it does so, it immediately becomes apparent that we're dealing with one of the most evocative metal releases of the year.
- Greg Fisher
The signs really were hidden in plain sight on Ironweed's 2008 debut, Indian Ladder (referred to as "metallic stoner rock"), but the Albany, New York band's sophomore return, Your World of Tomorrow, wipes away any doubt of their intense Soundgarden worship, particularly once the falsettos start flying (see "The Lucky Ones," "Awaken") and the guitar riffs start grinding into cyclopean spin cycles ("Heavy Crowns," "Red Circles," etc.) that would not sound all that misplaced on Chris Cornell and company's 1989 breakthrough, Louder Than Love. Back then, '90s alt rock was of course just a glimmer in Kurt Cobain's glazed eye (its precursor, college rock, was still trying to pass final exams), so it was not uncommon for listeners to lump guitar-centric outfits like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and even Jane's Addiction into the all-encompassing heavy metal category (don't forget that Jane's was actually in the running for a heavy metal Grammy in 1989). But then, once that gaggle of grunge gods wiped the music fashion slate clean and proceeded to wipe the floor with all metal bands -- the good, the bad, and the ugly, ugly glam ones -- even mentioning "alternative" and "metal" in the same sentence became nigh impossible. Now, two decades hence, it seems that the time has finally thawed out intra-genre enmity enough so that this musical odd couple can share tight quarters once again, and that's essentially what's happening all over Your World of Tomorrow (and many other contemporary albums out there), even though the aforementioned songs (most of them stacked in the album's second half) generally sound like second-rate Soundgarden wannabes. No, this album's vastly redeeming highlights -- namely "Now Stronger," "Enduring Snakes," and "A Graceful Death" -- are those that blend their alt metallic influences far less conspicuously and come up with much more individual, flowing, monsta-grooves instead. Another standout, "Messenger," shifts from brutish power chords to sensitive acoustic parts with astonishing ease, while "And the New Slaves" can't entirely make good on its hugely promising, seductive psychedelic intro, but sure comes damn close. The same is true, in broader terms, about Ironweed's second album as a whole: its songwriting inconsistencies and minor personality disorders forbid it from measuring up to the band's first, but it's a close call and, let's not forget, that first was pretty darn good.
- Eduardo Rivadavia
The cover of Your World of Tomorrow, the second LP from Albany heavyweight champion Ironweed, gives an immediate clue about its contents: brightly wide-eyed citizens with almost painfully beatific smiles on their faces loomed over by an Illuminati pyramid. Ironweed looks out at this wide, weird world in which we live and ain’t sure it likes what it sees – corporations rule, the media caves in to the slightest pressure and the populace keeps its collective head buried so far in its computer screens its brainwaves have come ones and zeros. But fear not – Ironweed is here to kick against the pricks. The band wastes no time with fripperies – instead they distill four decades worth of metal down into a potent, heavy-as-fuck clash of riffs and power chords, like Black Sabbath, Trouble, Judas Priest and Kyuss orgying behind a Marshall stack. Frontdude Jeff Andrews singshrieks about Heavy Crowns, Red Circles and The Lucky Ones, and if specific gripes seem elusive, it’s pretty clear he’s really pissed about the way life moves in the 21st century. But even if you don’t buy into the message, the medium makes perfect sense – check out the amazing And the New Slaves for a lesson on how to engage in earnest protest and still be guilty of assault and battery. The next time you want to raise your fist and your lighter at the same time, Your World of Tomorrow is your soundtrack.
- Michael Toland
Ironweed is a band that is hard to pin down. That was the case with ’Indian Ladder’, their 2008 debut and it has not changed with follow-up ‘Your World Of Tomorrow’. Is this still Southern Metal, is it perhaps more nu metal or should we just dub this modernized eighties hardrock? After listening to ‘Your World Of Tomorrow’ I tend to choose the latter, although Alice in Chains and even Tool references (‘And The New Slaves’) pop up at times. It most definitely is no stoner, a more or less logical thought knowing Ironweed’s records are released by Small Stone Records.
‘Your World Of Tomorrow’ is a concept album – another typical remainder of the seventies and eighties. The record’s main theme is a world that appears utopic, thanks to modern technology, but turns out to be more a dystopia once you look better. A world in which everyone is watched with the same modern technology, freedom is sacrificed for profit and greed. A world living on credit and passes its problems to the next generation. Sounds familiar? Ironweed keeps the pace high during the album. No mid tempo bullshit, just heavy rock that despite the thundering drum rolls appears old fashioned. In 1989 this may have been the next big thing. Now it is a kind of seldom heard retro. Could it be because we would rather forget metal from that particular period? Listen for example to ‘Awaken’ and shiver. Even if singer Jeff Andrews had been a bit more in tune and had been given a bit more talent, this would still be a horrible song.
‘Your World Of Tomorrow’ will disappoint most potential buyers. The average hardrock / AOR listener will judge Ironweed too wild, the stoner fan on the other hand thinks it is too cheesy and it never gets alternative or experimental, so the real snobs, eh… music lovers will dismiss it with characteristic arrogance. Because of this flaw I do not predict big sales, or it should be because of the (it must be said) intriguing and very well fitting cover layout made by Alexander von Wieding, who single handedly gives most Small Stone albums a nice and tasteful look.
I have to admit I never got round to checking out Ironweed's debut offering "Indian Ladder" which landed in 2008, so I approached my initial listen to this album with no idea what to expect other than some preconceived notion that it may involve some nice fat bluesy riffs, big grooves and beards that so many Small Stone bands excel in delivering. I didn't expect a powerhouse metal album with balls of steel!!!
Sure, the riffs here are certainly bigger than J-Lo's ass and fuzzier than Ron Jeremy's chest but they bristle with a metallic sheen that somehow manages to bring together elements of Alice In Chains style grunge with the catchier, groovier elements of Anthrax's prime 80's output. If I may be so bold as to make another Anthrax comparison I would say that Jeff Andrews' classic high throated vocals occupy the same territory as so many classic 80's power metal bands with something of a nod towards Joey Belladonna's helium fuelled approach.
This album is a mammoth riff-fest from start to finish that piles crunch on top of crunch bolstered up by relentless rhythms. A track by track run down is almost redundant though "The Lucky Ones" is a clear highlight with its incessant "My dead friends are the lucky ones" refrain that continues to ring out long after the album has finished. It isn't all heads down to the finish drum patterns and huge riffs however, Ironweed do know when to hold back and on a track such as "And The New Slaves" they show they are able to vary their dynamic attack as the song builds from a balladic verse to epic mid section through prog tinged psychedelia into a full on metal assault and back again before heading into outer space...pretty much all facets of the Ironweed sound blended into one song.
This may not be the most immediate album to grasp. I have to admit on first listen I was left thinking "what the fuck" as I felt that I'd been transported back 25 years to a time when my jeans were sprayed on and my hi-top trainers were pristine white, but repeated listens have opened up the subtleties held in this album. Most albums aren't without their weaknesses and "Awaken" is a bit of a dip; the vocals bordering on a little too shrill for easy listening and possessing a chorus that does delve into the cheesier side of 80's metal. Fortunately the rolling rhythms of "Messenger" quickly bring things back on track.
Recorded at Mad Oak studios under the guidance of Benny Grotto this is, as you might expect, an exceptional sounding piece of work with crisp, all encompassing guitars and an overall thick, warm tone that allows Andrews' vocals to shine.
I will admit, this isn't my favourite album in the Small Stone catalogue, but then the competition is pretty fierce. It is, however, as strong a metal album as is likely to be released this year and a million miles better than some of the appalling shit that is pedalled in the pages of Kerrang and Metal Hammer as the "next big thing". Definitely worth a listen if you're in a head busting mood.
- Ollie Stygall
I’ve been neglecting my pile of recent Small Stone releases lately. They’ve been sitting here for a few weeks now and every time I try to get around to writing them the demands of reality (ugh!) demand my attention and another day slips by. But not anymore! Here a triple decker of new stuff from the unusually consistent rock label.
I always liked the name Ironweed and now that I’ve heard their music I like that a lot, too. Hailing from the New York state capitol, Ironweed are easily the best thing to come from Albany since Blotto. Ironweed are a straight ahead pummeling metal band. Two crushing guitars, pounding rhythm section and lots of good yelling, Ironweed remind me of another great Small Stone band Solace. Fans of anything hard n heavy ranging from vintage Judas Priest to D.R.I. will love Ironweed. Starving iron dogs will feast upon this bloody platter of raw riff metal.
It’s worth noting that all three of these releases were produced and recorded by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios in Boston. The sound is hard, clear and punchy and will definitely sound good in your car as flip off the slow pokes in the right lane.
“Now Stronger,” the opening track on Ironweed’s sophomore album, Your World of Tomorrow, is a mega-sized mix of spacey ambition and aggressive thrust, and lays the groundwork for an entire album’s worth of all-encompassing cosmic crunch. It might be said, then, that Your World of Tomorrow is a much more loftier effort than 2008′s Indian Ladder, and why not? With its eye-in-the-sky theme, Your World of Tomorrow finds the Albany band reworking their motorcycle metal into a groovier, albeit more paranoiac, ride. And while it still offers up its fair share of sludge n’ fuzz with songs like “The Lucky Ones,” “Enduring Snakes,” “Messenger,” and “Heavy Crowns,” there’s a noticeable move away from the stoner center thanks to the flashy dynamics on songs like “And the New Slaves,” “Awaken,” and “Red Circles”. Make no mistake, though, Ironweed is still really fucking heavy, it’s just that they’ve found occasion to take what they could from The Quill, Soundgarden, sHEAVY, and Solace and incorporate it into their ten ton sound. Best part is, the album ends as it starts, with closer “A Graceful Death” serving as mean, meteoric punctuation.
- Jeff Warren
They’ve undergone a few lineup changes since the release of their 2009 Small Stone debut, Indian Ladder, but Albany, New York’s Ironweed have managed to maintain the tightness and the heaviness of that first album and even develop it some on the follow-up, Your World of Tomorrow. A rallying cry against the post-modern dystopia in which we live, the nine-cut, 40-minute full-length is rife with crisp songwriting, clear presentation and an overall straightforward style that the four-piece is well suited to. As per the Small Stone norm, tracking and mixing was handled by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios in Massachusetts, and as per his norm, there’s no sacrifice of the band’s formidable live energy in the name of getting a professional sound. Your World of Tomorrow is heavy rock for heavy rockers, and I know there are plenty out there who will find satisfaction in the aggression and payoff these songs have to offer.
Ironweed trace their roots back to Albany outfit Greatdayforup, of which guitarist Mike Vitali and bassist Brendan Slater were members. I wasn’t a huge fan of either Greatdayforup or the first Ironweed record, and even Your World of Tomorrow has a couple moments on it that feel contrived: the commercial balladry in the opening section of “And the New Slaves” and the ‘80s metal chorus of centerpiece track “Awaken” come most immediately to mind. Yet, for every down, there’s an equal and opposite up: The swagger of “Messenger” is a heavy and unmistakable highlight of the album, and the earlier, faster-paced “The Lucky Ones” features Your World of Tomorrow’s best scorching guitar lead and chorus alike. “Heavy Crowns,” which pops up later, finds vocalist/guitarist Jeff Andrews playing up the considerable Solace influence in his singing to great effect, as does opener “Now Stronger,” but there’s something decidedly nü-metal in the chorus riff of that song (it can be a fine like sometimes), and it’s just one of the tradeoffs I find myself making while listening to Ironweed’s latest. The band – rounded out by the hefty drum work of newcomer Dan Dinsmore — is solid on a songwriting level, and it’s easy to appreciate what they’re going for on Your World of Tomorrow, but there are some misfires to go along with the hits as the album plays out.
On the whole, the record has a lot going for it: there’s the agreeable concept, awesome Alexander Von Wieding artwork, Benny Grotto production, well-honed songs, tight performances and a few memorable tracks. But when it comes to what I want to hear, Ironweed has yet to change my mind, and if I want quality new-school heavy rock from Small Stone, I’m invariably going to reach for Gozu or Lo-Pan first – not to mention Solace, who really do come across as chief instigators even on the shorter “Red Circles” or closer “A Graceful Death,” which follows. I respect the work Ironweed obviously puts into what they do, but even the most gripping passages of Your World of Tomorrow – “The Lucky Ones” and “Enduring Snakes” – don’t seem to hold my attention as much as they feel like they should. That said, I’ll make the point to say again that Ironweed are a talented and tight group and that these songs will no doubt find welcome in many ears among those in the heavy underground. I know I’ve said it before, but not everything is going to work for every listener, and I guess that’s just what’s going on here. I don’t hate it, I’m not violently opposed to it or offended by it, but it gets a firm “meh,” and among such indispensible other output from the label, it’s not something I see myself revisiting. You might feel differently, and if you haven’t heard Ironweed before, I’d still recommend checking them out so you can find out for yourself where you stand.
- H.P. Taskmaster