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Loinclöth: Iron Balls of Steel

Skull-oscillating total metal overkill, Loinclöth isn’t a joke

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Iron Balls of Steel

Southern Lord

Yes, you read that title right, and the name, and yes, that’s an umlaut over that “o.” So, clearly, total metal bluster overkill is on the menu. Loinclöth isn’t a joke, though, or at least not entirely. The Virginia/North Carolina-based instrumental trio is deadly serious about the skull-oscillating power of its switchbacking death-ish, doom-ish chug—as close to this writer’s dream sound of Motörhead playing Meters covers as has come along maybe ever. So why does Iron Balls of Steel feel only kinda awesome rather than totally so?

This is, after all, what many crossover metal fans pray for: Heavy music without extreme all-or-nothing-buy-in vocal styles, much less through-the-duodenum-of-the-Dark-One titles and lyrics. And to be clear, this is not Pelican-style death-metal-in-the-sense-of-boring-you-to-death instrumental tedium. “Angelbait” boasts a bass-heavy bottom-dragging churn that any metal band anywhere should envy, driven forward by MVP drummer Steve Shelton; the technical time shifts and riffs of “Sharkdancer” can slip a cervical disc in even the most seasoned head-banger’s neck without losing key forward motion. And it isn’t all pound: Crafty twinned-guitar harmonics flare amid the Melvins-y trudge of “Elkindrone” and the breathless “Stealing Pictures” (which is what passes for a ballad here, sorta).

The Fucking Champs already staked out this instrumental, metal-mocking territory, of course, but Loinclöth seems less interested in impressing you with its smirk and its chops than in rocking your face off without having to steel-toe any orthodox genre line. Still, the lack of vocals—or, you know, something—to distinguish the less-distinguished tracks of thump-and-grind from their fellows makes Iron Balls of Steel a bit wearying in a single sitting. Bet this rules live, though.

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