Released: 2009, Small Stone Records
These days it seems that most bands form, and a year later are signed to a label and have released their debut. So, when it comes to releasing their first album, Salt Lake City’s Iota is refreshingly old-school. The band initially formed in 2002 and has gone through several member changes and incarnations before finally settling on the three-piece line up they have today. Along the way they’ve released some well regarded demos and now, seven years later, have finally released TALES, their debut album.
So after seven years of work, what does TALES have to show for Iota? Quite a bit actually. They’re on Small Stone Records, and if you’ve read any of my previous reviews of that label’s output, you’ll know that they tend to focus on ’70s-inspired sludgy, doomy stoner metal. Iota easily fits into this description with rough ‘n ready vocals, fuzzy guitars, and a certain freewheeling attitude that you don’t hear much anymore – check out the rollicking “We Are The Yithians” for proof. In fact, both opener “New Mantis” and the following “...Yithians” are short, punchy kicks to the face, with guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano wailing away with his voice and fingers. Naturally, the rhythm section of Oz and Andy Patterson are more than able to keep up with him, laying down some excellent bass riffs and thundering drums.
But of course, this IS ‘70s-inspired stoner rock, so what would it be without a little exploration? Enter “The Sleeping Heathen” (10+ minutes) and “Dimensional Orbiter” (23 minutes), two massive monoliths of oppressive sound. Not many bands outside of doom metal can get away with putting 33 minutes of music into just two songs but somehow Iota succeeds. Yes, there are semi-frequent periods of boredom as these two behemoths lumber along, but overall the band includes enough twists and turns to keep it interesting.
Finishing with the relatively short (only 8 minutes) “Opiate Blues”, Iota closes the album on a high note. TALES is a very good starting point for Iota. It’s not the perfect stoner rock album, but it’s good enough to whet fans’ appetites for the next one.