I have a soft spot for anything Canadian, and it just makes my job as a reviewer harder, because things that aren’t making my socks fly off my feet or melting my face off my skull just end up confusing me. This is one of those cases. Torontonian band Iron Age Mystics give us their full-length album Pride Before the Fall, and although my mind has been tainted with social media exposing me to other reviews, I must stay true to the snobby classicist inside of me telling me this isn’t something unique sounding or evoking of special feelings of wonder or inspiration. (That inner voice is almost never wrong about which music is high quality work and when it doesn’t make much of an impact on the listener.)
Some have compared Iron Age Mystics to Rage Against the Machine because of their politically charged lyrics. I can see why this album is revolutionary in the minds of some, but unfortunately, it is not to me. It’s not in the same category as RATM, simply because it doesn’t feel like there is much real anger, total disgust, and absolute anarchy in the face of the gross injustices of government. So, it is respectable to challenge authority today, but it’s something that has been done before, with almost the same exact lyrics, like “…save it for the revolution,” and “here come the thought police.” If you’re going to talk about causing a revolution, you better get ready to get your hands dirty, otherwise you don’t stand a chance.
Leaving behind artistic definitions, this album does hold its own with lyrics that make sense, song structures that are musically correct, a singer (Kevin Connelly) who can sing on key, drummers (Greg Mount and Alexander Tukatsch) who can stay on beat, and guitarists (Allan Wohng and Chuck Brown) who have some tasty little licks sprinkled in a little everywhere. The end result is very much coherent.
Is that all that’s needed to make a very real and impactful reaction bubble up from the listener? To me, it’s not, but that’s because I’m a music snob, remember? The most emotionally commanding part of this album appears in the spoken-word overdubs, because they were spoken in such a way that really communicated to me what the words were saying. I felt them much more than the rest of the album because they seemed like they were spoken with true conviction and feeling. That said, I can give total credit to the band for the making of an album, but I am a naysayer to the idea that it is revolutionary or a great feat of talent. They leave me wishing the band would push themselves more, and wishing they would use their ability to play music to create something skillfully genius that can’t be found anywhere else.
Iron Age Mystics are very much able to play decent and coherent music, never sounding like an odd mix. They work well together, and clearly understand how this stuff works, but it’s going to need a lot more oomph to start impressing. With not much that is uniquely characterizing or defiant of the monotone areas of the music realm, I can’t say that this is a work of true and utter grit to make something relentlessly great. It might do quite well with the general public that craves decent music to listen to that isn’t actually the same song over and over again, but something that comes close, so your jimmies aren’t rustled too much to start making you nervous about the very fabric of reality itself. Everything has its place, even good ol’ radio rock bands.
Written by Talia Plante
*edited by Kate Erickson