I AM is currently one of the hardest-working bands on the touring circuit. Every few months I see the group post up an upcoming tour. All this touring has paid off for the group tenfold.
“Hard 2 Kill” the band’s second album released in 2018 quickly became one of my favourite albums of all time!
I was lucky enough to see them live on a UK / Euro tour with Thy Art Is Murder in 2020 just before covid hit & the band blew every band off the stage on that show & proved they are quickly becoming one of the most consistent live bands.
“Eternal Steel” the band’s follow-up felt like a long time coming, and even the band talking in the press wanted to make sure this album was the best I AM record to date.
And I’m happy to say it was worth the wait.
This album is the best metal album of 2022. FACT.
From the opening note on the ridiculous “The Primal Wave” you can hear the songwriting has been thought over again & again. Faster riffing, heavier breakdowns. More viscous vocals from singer Andrew Hileman & a hella mighty drum tone from drummer Brandon Busa.
The next evolution of I AM is showcased in “Surrender To The Blade ” a fantastic mid-paced song that’s heavy as balls. “When will the killing stop? When the bodies drop! Hileman screams before the track breaks down, guttural vocals & a perfect Merauder-style riff kick in!
If Conan had a track to chop heads to this would be it.
Ending in one of the most satisfying outros the band has written to date this track shows already the scope of what I AM have formulated on “Eternal Steel”.
When you thought the last track was epic enough then we get to “The Iron Gate”. The largest spectrum of sonics for I AM.
Opening with a beautifully reverb soaked clean guitar picking before the track opens into thrash city. Slayer meets Obituary on this track. Headbanger & knuckledragger. A perfect combo if you ask me.
Guitarist Tom Reyes says in the album EPK “Heavy doesn’t always have to mean ‘slow.’ Frequently for us, the faster parts are equally as heavy.” Which is so true for this album & the band in general. I love a hard thrash riff but sometimes they can get lost & boring quickly.
What I AM have done on “Eternal Steel” is write some of the heaviest, yet memorable fast riffing the band have created.
Now normally I can pick one or two favourite tracks but with an album full of amazing tracks it’s hard. But “Vicious Instinct” is a track I keep coming back to.
One of the more “straight forward” tracks on the album.
This track feels like the bands “Mandatory Suicide”, full of simple thrashing, precise riffing accents & a heavy ass bridge part. This is one for the spinkickers & ass beaters for sure.
“Hard 2 Kill” had a beautifully written track called “Steel Roses”. Now halfway through the album “Queen Incarnate” feels like its sequel.
A heavy affair full of melody. It may be a rager but the simple riffing choices guitarists Tom Reyes & Chris Burgess make on this album elevate it to the highest level. These two are a perfect & bloody match in riffing heaven.
Close to the end of the record “Eye Candy” hit me like a ton of bricks. Featuring a perfectly sung chorus vocal melody by Hileman this track shows you that the band are always pushing the boundaries & limits.
Not only does it have one of the most catchy choruses of 2022 it features (and by a big surprise) a guest appearance from the legend that is Kirk Winstienb (Crowbar). His vocals over this track is a perfect marriage with Hileman’s which make this track a game changer!
The track ends quickly before slipping into the album’s closer “Manic Cure”.
“Arise” meets “Redneck Stomp” with this closer.
The band kept the heaviest riffs until the end of this one.
At the halfway point the track drops out to just the drums & bass which shows the perfect tone & production by Randy Leboeuf who Recorded, mixed, and mastered the album.
This track is the perfect close for the album. Still giving it their all I AM end on their terms.
“Eternal Steel” is a perfect album. It encomppases all the best parts thrash, death metal & hardcore without it sounding generic or like anything else frankly.
I AM are the masters within the kingdom. & their blades shall never dull!
Eternal Steel is out via MNRK Heavy on 9th September 2022