EP REVIEW: BOG IRON – ‘Star Of The County Down’ (2022)

California’s Bog Iron celebrate their 16th anniversary with their first studio release in years featuring a winning combination of classic Folk and hard rocking Trad!

We are ingratiated to you readers sometimes for your recommendations for that is how we came across today’s band Bog Iron. We do have writers far and wide but still need you to point us in the right direction sometimes and it really does show the wealth of bands in the USA that a gem like Bog Iron can lay undiscovered by us till they are in their 16th year!

The early days! from 2010 (left to right : Patrick Golden, Steve Lenard, John Michael, Peter Sheehan

This is in no small part due to them being a gigging band so recording hasn’t been a major priority till now it would seem with two releases in 2022 and it only being April! The first release wasn’t exactly new but a recently re-discovered recording of a gig from the Summer of 2019 at the Midsummer’s Fairytale Celtic Ren Faire in Plymouth, California and recently mixed and mastered by band guitarist Patrick R. Golden. It is a superb album that really gives you a shake. For a start their is no Celtic instruments but the music is unmistakably Irish and even at times when the music takes a harder Rock turn it could still considered totally accessible to even the most hardcore of finger-in-the-ear Folkie. Discovered in a Dropbox folder from the festival’s sound engineer in early March it took a marathon session of auditing, mixing, and mastering but 36 hours later the album was ready for Bandcamp Friday (when the vultures forego their usual massive cut!) and the album was out. It really is a mad mix of Irish Folk songs given the Hard Rock treatment with great vocals and the production is note perfect. The banter with the audience is also a treat showing a band in love with what they do. The highlight of the album is the final song ‘The NIght Pat Murphy Died’ a near nine minutes epic that drifts off into the stunning ‘Those Were People Who Died’ by f’ed up Irish-American writer Jim Carroll. Live Bog Iron ll is only available for download at the moment via Bandcamp but you can listen to it via the player below.

Formed in Monterey, California, Bog Iron have been together since early 2008 formed from the session players on Dún Laoghaire born lead singer John Michael’s solo album. John and Patrick are the remaining two founding members but are joined by Kerry native Peter Sheehan on bass and local Bhoy Keith Wieland on drums. So it was that in the search for inspiration for a new studio release that the tapes for Live Bog Iron ll were found so we can grateful they put in the work. Star Of The County Down remains, and always will, a firm favourite on the Irish music scene but also among Celtic-Punk bands too. A song like many Irish Folk classics that is perfect for adapting to something a bit harder. The EP begins with the title song and yeah it ‘s trad Irish but stripped right back and re-assembled as an aggressive gem of Hard Rock energy. Incredibly all instruments here are played by Patrick with only backing vocals on ‘Star’ provided by John Michael. He even produced it too at Blood Crow Studios. The remaining three songs are all instrumentals though all wildly different. I’m finding it hard to put into words (for the first time in nine years!) for this review as on the face of it ‘Maggie And The Priest’, ‘Kerns And The Gallowglasses’ and ‘The Jig Of Liam Fitzmurderhorse’ are all pretty similar. That hard Rock sound but that clear presence of the underlying Celtic tunes makes each a completely unique transporting Irish folk into the present—and beyond!

The band claim to “put on a fierce live show” and if our only evidence is their live album then we can completely agree. It’s a shame that even though both releases are very good they are also both quite different. I am such a fan of the live album that must admit to a bit of disappointment on first hearing the EP but several listens in and it has grown on me immensely and I’m only impressed with Patrick’s (virtually solo) work. Their may be no wild sing-along choruses as before but it is still a superb piece of work channelling rock giants of Sabbath, Quo and AC/DC but also the the Folk genius of Horslips and the sadly largely forgotten and little known English band You Slosh. With these releases the first since 2018’s Echos From The Cliffs Of Mohere, itself a re-master/re-release of their 2008 debut album, with eight previously unreleased tracks. It is hoped a reinvigorated Bog Iron is in the traps and raring to go and do some catching up on the recorded side of things!

(You can stream  / download Star Of The County Down below)

Buy Star Of The County Down  FromTheBand

Contact Bog Iron  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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