While Legacy Of The Anointed (Argonauta Records) may be Spiral Grave’s full-length debut, it’s easy to also think of it as the sixth Iron Man album under a different name. After all, the musicians involved were part of that band’s last active lineup with guitarist Willy Rivera in place of the tragically passed on bandmate, Al Morris III. The style also bares a superficial resemblance to the Doom Metal approach last seen on 2013’s South Of The Earth. However, there’s a distinction between the two entities and Spiral Grave uses that connection as a springboard for their own identity.
For starters, I don’t think Iron Man ever got as consistently up-tempo as things get on here. ‘Nightmare On May Eve’ starts the album off with a particularly quickly paced riff set that comes back with a vengeance on ‘Your Enemy’s Enemy’ while ‘Tanglefoot’ goes even further into its breakneck intensity. Even the more mid-tempo songs like ‘Modern Day Golden Calf’ and ‘Nothing’ are executed with an aggressive swing. One can also trace a certain southern swagger comparable to the likes of Down and their fellow Marylanders in Earthride.
That swagger is especially apparent in the musicianship with the performances striking a consistent balance between gravel and melody. The guitar work is quite solid, churning out a slew of simple but memorable riffs that are boosted by a gritty but not too fuzzed out tone. The rhythm section is also able to keep up well with the bass providing a particularly grimy underbelly and getting its own spots to shine. Vocalist Dee Calhoun’s raspy bellow may be a point of contention for some, but his lines are tasteful with enough dimension in his delivery to keep from getting too abrasive.
Overall, Spiral Grave offers Doom Metal with raw attitude on Legacy Of The Anointed. There’s enough of an old school spirit in the dynamic vocals and no-nonsense riffage to honor the group’s forebears, but the swampy edge gives it a nicely contemporary outlook. It’s an interesting contrast from the more easygoing pace that often defines Maryland Doom, but the extra oomph just as engaging in its own way. If you ever imagined Iron Man with an extra snarl, you won’t do wrong in checking this one out.
Buy the album here: https://spiralgrave.bandcamp.com/album/legacy-of-the-anointed
8 / 10