Band – xIron Sharpens Ironx
Album – The Tragedy of Mankind
Country of Origin – USA
Genre – Blackened Hardcore/Thrash
Release Date – May 1, 2020
Label – Under City Records
Author – Benjamin Boggs
Death is on its way!!! This is the proclamation from Atom Bomb from the latest release by xIron Sharpens Ironx, and an amazing debut from a well-known and revered scene veteran. Known for his stellar work in Muskegon heavyweights Infinite Design, Larry Passenier wrote and recorded all instruments and vocals on this latest release.
This album is a ripper from start to finish. Blast beats a plenty and groove for days. Passenier’s vocal delivery is so solid on this production, as he incorporates several styles of harsh vocals to deliver his message. His vocals move seamlessly with each genre change in this breakneck release. With the exception of the brief melodic interlude we get in track Distance/ Depression, this release goes for the throat and does not let go. Final original song Among Shadows is an epic piece of hardcore majesty. This is my standout track. Full of emotion ripe with groovy changes; it really encapsulates what xIron Sharpens Ironx is about. For kicks, there is a faithful cover of minor Threat’s Straight Edge to close out the album. It fits right in as part of the canon.
Despite such an aggressive sound, this is far from empty anger. This genre-defying album throws all emotions into the mix to really bring home the message. This is about facing flaws, dealing with past mistakes and remaining resolute in the face of adversity. It’s powerful in its sincerity and immediate in its self-reflection. It is a peek into Passenier’s psyche, as if his raw emotion was squeezed out onto recording. Overall, this is such an impressive debut and I can’t wait to see these powerhouse songs performed live!
I was fortunate to get an interview with Larry. Our discussion follows below the music:
Benjamin Boggs: So, my friend! What inspired this project? You’ve been in a bunch of bands, and what pushed you to start over and create this new vision?
Larry Passenier: Hey brother. I appreciate you having me, my friend. I was jamming in some blues bands playing drums, but began getting the itch to play something a little heavier. I hit a point of depression and I began writing music that focused on it, along with some other issues that were weighing heavily upon me. Although I wa,s and still have fun jamming with my brothers in Colt Snuffer and The Dead Horsemen, I wanted to start digging into my background of metal/hardcore to start writing in that style. I started compiling riffs and ideas in my head, until I finally took the plunge to start recording them. I came up with the band name xIron Sharpens Ironx to start putting the music out there for people to listen to.
BB: As a multi-instrumentalist, you recorded and wrote all parts on this album. Where did you start when writing, and what was the most difficult for you?
LP: I honestly started jamming some of the tunes with my brother Adam Eklund (Infinite Design) in a band we were jamming in called Splintered Hope. Parts of Dehumanized and Among Shadows both have riffs and sections that we worked out together, while jamming in that. That project kind of faded out just due to us not having time to get together, so the riffs got shelved until I started writing for this project and I revisited them. So, I took some of those riffs, and I was also jamming a lot of parts on drums, and actually wrote the guitar to some drum beats like the end of Dehumanized. It was actually a lot of fun to write, because I didn’t do anything in a particular order. Whenever I was inspired on a certain instrument, I would start writing. The most difficult was probably trying to figured out some of the bass, because I’ve never played bass in any project, so I was pretty sloppy trying to get that tight.
BB: Did you also oversee the art on this project? As a well-known graphic designer in the local scene, when picking your artwork, what inspiration did you use?
LP: I was inspired by the lyrical content for what I had pictured in my mind for the cover. For this album I actually contracted the design through Nightmare Designs and did the layout myself. I wanted the artwork to display emotions and images associated with Depression, Anxiety, Drug Abuse, and the Horror that politics brings to society. I think he did a great job with the imagery. It was nice being able to have someone else concentrate on the artwork, since I was busy concentrating on the music/recording process.
BB: I get the feeling that this is a very personal album for you. What would you hope that the listener gets from your album?
LP: The album is extremely personal to me. I’m a suicide survivor and the main point of this record is for people suffering from mental health issues to understand they are not alone in their struggles. I’m pushing and hoping to reach people, so they know that they are loved as human beings and shouldn’t fear asking for help or think that it isn’t normal to do so. When I release the physical copies the first 100 minus shipping will all be donated to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Even if I’m able to reach one person I made the impact I hoped to achieve.
BB: And finally, thank you for taking time out to answer a few questions! What can we hope to see from you in the future?
LP: Thank you for having me brother! I hope to keep creating music and possibly put together a line up to play a few shows next year, if possible. If not I’ll just keep writing and putting out music by going to Jason Ingersoll at Exit Door Productions to record and distribute them through my brother Taylor Patz at Under City Records. I have a lot of great friends like you that support me, and I appreciate it immensely. Every release I put out will go towards a cause, and every release will be available for free in digital format. You will never have to pay money to listen to my music, it will always at least be available for free in digital format. xIron Sharpens Ironx will be getting merch printed and physical albums printed in May, and May first it will be on all streaming services. Thanks again my friend. XXX