The debut record from Italy’s IO, Fire, takes much inspiration from the band’s namesake, the fiery lava ridden moon of Jupiter. These Roman devastators have been around for five years, paying their dues in the underground before Argonauta Records picked them up for the release of this sludge doom debut.
Opener Third Eye has an almost iconic riff of lumbering, crushing doom while savage shrieks howl over the top of the nihilistic groan. Like the foreboding rumbles of a volcano, waiting to pour boiling magma upon unsuspecting victims, everything builds to a soul shredding crescendo when Fire Walks With Us begins, replete with a baking fuzzed out clean guitar laying more groundwork for the weight to cave in.
IO‘s mix of EyeHateGod style nihilistic blues, Crowbar’s massive riffs and the shimmering fuzziness of classic stoner rock is intoxicating; it’s like arriving in Sky Valley and finding the place wreathed in flame and the earth cracked beneath your feet. When IO drop the brutality away and come at you with ethereal guitar and tribal drumming, you wonder how this dichotomy works so well. Then you realise that this is no shade without some light, and that this mesmerising, almost spiritual section feels as essential to their sound as the world shaking doom riffs. Loki Patera has some truly grinding, harrowing sections in the middle, where it feels like life itself is screaming.
The sludge doom power and fury is tempered by a subtle but tangible stoner fuzziness…
Slow, miasmic sludge has been my jam for a lot of this year; maybe it’s a hangover from all this pandemic stuff, but there’s few things more satisfying than that moment where a vocalist retches bilious lyrics over an Electric Wizardian groove. And to close us out, what better image to conjure than a wrathful Greek deity rising from seas on molten rock to smite those who cower in his presence? That’s what you get with Poseidon (In Lava Sea), bubbling noises lurk beneath a lone guitar melody that builds into a crawling, distorted monster with cavernous vocals.
Fire is an album of vast space and vast weight. The sludge doom power and fury is tempered by a subtle but tangible stoner fuzziness, that takes the edge off the riffs and gives everything a bit of haze. Like the heat haze found above a volcanic caldera, it vaguely hides the terror beneath but when the eruption comes, you’ve got to be ready. Fire is an incredible work, and IO are yet another Italian triumph for 2021.
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson