By this stage in the game, Iron Monkey is more of an idea, a spirit, than a b(r)and. As long as the original air of brutish nihilism remains, it doesn’t much matter who is doing the actual noise. As long as that spirit is upheld, then Iron Monkey has a reason for being.

If you apply this reasoning to the band’s new album, Spleen & Goad, it’s pretty much a success. In fact I’d go so far as to say that the track Off Switch, with it’s amazing, glorious dissonance and what appears to be real, untamed anger spilling from the word hole of vocalist J. Rushby, is the best thing the ‘Monkey have come up with since 1998’s Our Problem.

They’ve only done one album in between then and now, of course, but you get my drift. Rat Flag is similarly successful, upping the speed and bringing a bit of that hardcore jaunt we all used to love to proceedings; If you love this kinda stuff it can’t help but get the blood pumping, and newish drummer Z. Big really sets the joint ablaze with some great kit battering.

The thirteen minutes in the middle of the album that these two tracks occupy will remind you of just why you took to this band in the first place, and penultimate track The Gurges isn’t far behind in terms of sheer piss and vinegar and excitement generated; But for these old ears there’s still a bit too much aimless heaviness going on to make Spleen & Goad a truly essential purpose. To a certain extent of course aimless heaviness is the name of the game, but it needs to be accompanied by a sense of savagery and hopelessness (see: The Gurges) that’s not always present in tracks like Lead Transfusion or CSP.

Don’t get me wrong – this is far from a lemon, but the heights the band reach on the best material here just leave you wishing for a bit more of that and less of the other. Have a listen yourself and see what you think.

Spleen & Goad releases on April 5th.