After the release of I Am The Law’s second EP. 2018’s ‘Hymn of The Vulture’, the band saw their fan base grow and they confirmed their place as one of the best metal bands to break out of the US in recent years. Seemingly primed to hit listeners with a full forty minute riff fest on a follow up, in some ways it comes as a disappointment that ‘Dance of The Southern Witch’ is just a two track, digital only release. However, the songs are far better than mere place-holders or stopgap material – both are fantastic, heavy as hell affairs that really build upon the skills I Am The Law have shown on their past EPs.
The title track begins with one of the band’s most uncompromising riffs, as heavily downtuned guitars battle with really intense pneumatic drums. Within about thirty seconds, a strong Lamb of God influence is felt, but the band realise more than blunt force is necessary to make the number stand and introducing a more melodic counterpoint where busy guitars channel a little of Dimebag Darrell’s old magic help to leaven the sheer weight. The dual vocals are suitably angry: the lead adopts a melodic death growl; the second, a hardcore shout, but if anything, it’s the music that sells the track in the long term. Things get even better during the second half when a meticulous lead tears through the relentless riff, before the speed gives way to more of a mid-pace and the groove metal traits of the previous release become dominant. Sure, it’s about intensive riffs as opposed to obvious chorus hooks, but if you’re looking for something to fill the void until Lamb of God return (or somehow feel LoG have become far too commercial), this does a fantastic job.
In its virtual b-side, I Am The Law offer a career best. ‘The Earth Will Eat Today’ is actually more accessible in every way and would’ve definitely made for a much better a-side in terms of attracting new fans. It comes with an opening riff that’s very clean, dropping a melody that very much flaunts the band’s love of Southern influenced hard rock. Once the clean guitar is joined by a heavy riff, the melodic streak very much continues and I Am The Law show themselves to be the natural successors to Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society. With a howling lead underscored by a sledgehammer heaviness, you get both sides of the band’s core sound hitting at once. Something that’s instantly fantastic actually then gets better once a very Pantera-inspired groove metal riff drives the main melody into a chorus that’s almost a hybrid of an old LoG classic and a deep cut from Pantera’s ‘Great Southern Trendkill’. Reintroducing the cleaner guitars for a brief instrumental interlude, I Am The Law switch from full on metal to swamp blues, before switching back to hit the listener with a fantastic chorus one last time. Bowing out with a few bars of hardcore thrashing with death metal overtones, these four minutes present everything that’s great about this band…but why wasn’t this the a-side?!
Any new music at all from I Am The Law is welcome and if these two songs are indicative of what fans can expect from a future album, their bid for Southern metal’s crown is more than assured.
Take a listen to ‘Dance of The Southern Witch’ below.