Welcome to The Saw’s Butcher Shop! Your Master Butcher, The Saw, has to back-up about a month for a New Album Review. On September 9, 2022, one of ya girl’s favorite bands dropped their third studio album; the Texas Metal heroes, I Am. Eternal Steel (MNRK Records) is a New School Death Metal album, with a twist! Many newer bands, today, are finding the right combination of subgenres to set themselves apart, and I Am have done it with Death Metal and Hardcore elements. And I love it!
I Am have been on the radar since their first drop, the 2017 self-released LP, Life Through Torment. Obviously, there is something going on in TX to make the State continue to produce these great bands! I Am displayed, from the start, that they have the chops to be ranked amongst them. But it was 2018’s Hard to Kill (1126 Records) that made The Saw sit up and take notice! The sophomore record was not a stretch from their debut, but it was an evolution. They had focused their sonic attack, and committed to the sound that would make them a force of nature – Death Metal blended with Hardcore beat-down!
I am have continued to tighten that focus, and Eternal Steel is the necessary outcome of the band’s pioneering movement so far. Now, you already know that ya girl loves Death Metal, and particularly New School; but I cannot consider I Am, strictly, a Death Metal Act. The Hardcore elements of the band’s sound are too prominent, and are, perhaps, more prevalent than the Death Metal aspect. And you already know that your Master Butcher loves Hardcore, too; but neither can I categorize them as, strictly, Hardcore. Thus, as I have said, I Am are pioneering a new and different sound based equally on these two parts. And Eternal Steel is a brilliant offering of I Am’s hard work and grind.
The whole record weighs-in at 41 minutes, and it contains 11 tracks, so you know that I Am are getting work done! Of the 11 tracks, not a single one is filler; every single song is a banger, complete and lacking nothing. “Surrender to the Blade” and “The Iron Gate” are the two singles off the album, and they are excellent examples of the brutal beatings that I Am are offering. But the two singles are no better (or worse) than any of the other nine tracks! The title track slaps, too, with time changes, shifts between straight Death Metal riffs and pure Hardcore Slam riffs, and slower, pounding signatures.
“Infernal Panther” begins with that grinding, crushing sense of weight, but turns to one of the fastest songs on the record, before shifting again to a beat-down Slam riff, and ending with the major riff in symphony. Great Song! “Queen Incarnate” begins with an Old School acoustic intro before breaking into a slamming, mid-paced face-melter; before, again, changing to a Hardcore Slam, and back to Old School. Brilliant Song! “Heaven on Earth” begins with a Thrash riff, the vocals are clean and nearly whispered. Then, with perfect timing, the tempo changes to a Hardcore groove before an incredible guitar solo is showcased; ending the way it began, acoustically.
And that description is only six of the songs! The vocal delivery is mostly a mid- to lower register gutteral on all 11 tracks, but it has that Hardcore intensity and force. Sometimes the vocals are more of the Hardcore holler, and a couple times it is entirely clean. The musicianship is excellent; not flashy, nor mathematical but focused and precise. I Am are a great band, like all the Metal bands coming (and that have ever come) out of Texas! And Eternal Steel is added to my list of favorite records released in 2022!
Rating: 10/10!! I love the Death Metal and Hardcore blend! My two favorites!!
Favorite Songs: Surrender to the Blade, The Iron Gates, Eternal Steel, Vicious Instinct, Heaven on Earth