Release Date: Jan 17, 2011
Record label: Southern Lord
By all logic, no-one ought to have been able to remember who or what Loincloth were by the time this debut album was announced. It arrives nearly 12 years after the band formed in the American South – two members hailed from North Carolina, two from Virginia – and nine years after their sole studio fruit, a four-track demo CD. Their minute burst of activity in 2003 has endured because Southern Lord issued two demo tracks on 7-inch (‘Church Burntings’ and ‘New Jersey’ – another, ‘Noise International’, was swiped for a compilation on the Swami label); because of the cultish pedigree Loincloth’s members had created in their previous outfits; and because fans of burly, obtuse bonecrushing doom metal tend to really like it when bands are obscure and fleeting enough to be almost mythical.
Picture a sasquatch strolling up to you on a busy street, and you'll get a sense of the surprise inherent in this, an honest-to-god Loincloth LP. For nearly a decade, the band-- a burly, ultra-technical instrumental-metal outfit with members split between Raleigh, N.C. and Richmond, Va.-- lurked in the shadows like some cryptozoological beast glimpsed only in a handful of tantalizing photographs.
It's taken 12 years, one instantly out-of-print 2003 demo, and the departure of a founding member (guitarist Pen Rollings), but Virginia/North Carolina instru-metal trio Loincloth can finally cement their legacy with a full-length debut. Album—and song ("Sactopus," anyone?) titles notwithstanding—Iron Balls Of Steel is as serious as a metal recording gets; and, at least until those new Meshuggah and Dillinger Escape Plan discs get mastered, it's also the greatest math-metal album of this still-young year. Sure, Rollings' absence stings for those of us who still worship the dude's early-'90s work in Breadwinner (please, Google them), but his presence and style are all over these 16 songs.