(Andy Synn recently wrote a three-line haiku of the new album by Irist, but now we have a second (and lengthier) opinion by Seattle-based writer Gonzo. The album is out now via Nuclear Blast.)
Atlanta sludge/prog unit Irist may be only one album into their young careers, but one listen to their ferocious debut Order of the Mind would have you believe otherwise. Both satisfyingly brutal and tastefully melodic throughout, the album displays the precise technicality of Mastodon and Gojira mixed with the savagery of early Soulfly. The result is something that scratches an itch you might not even realize you had.
Boasting thunderous riffs, head-nodding grooves, vocals that blast like sandpaper on balsa wood, and a rhythm section that sounds determined to use your head as a snare drum, Order of the Mind pummels its way through its 10-track length like it has something to prove. Given that it’s a major-label debut, maybe that was intentional. What it proves, though, is something bigger — it sees Irist obviously paying homage to the influences of the aforementioned bands, but it adds a layer of originality that’s markedly harder to pull off.
Photo by Susy Irais Reyes
Opener “Eons” wastes no time in bringing the onslaught, as vocalist Rodrigo Carvalho channels his best Max Cavalera while his bandmates shred their way through time changes and slabs of pure metallic intensity. It paves the way for “Burning Sage” and “Severed” to blast their way into the fold next, both tracks allowing the band to settle into more melodic choruses that will no doubt bring the Gojira comparisons.
The rapid-fire helicopter-blade riffs that open “Creation” rev up the ferocity a notch. The song builds on layer after layer of complexity, showing off Irist’s creativity as songwriters. They know exactly when to channel the unfettered rage, but what sets them apart is knowing when to restrain it. Just when the crescendo threatens to crash the song like a bulldozer through your living room, the band take their foot off the gas pedal at just the right moment.
“Dead Prayers” alters between absolutely monolithic riffs and harmonious leads, easily bringing to mind visuals of a frenzied mosh pit in a post-coronavirus world. Similarly, “Insurrection” blasts out a sludgy, slower, Lamb of God style intro that careens into the heaviest moments on the record.
Oddly, the title track is kind of an afterthought, with some true creativity being brought into the mix with “Harvester.” Remember that instantly identifiable melodic drone of Burton C. Bell that defined Fear Factory’s sound? Carvalho uses his range the exact same way here. What follows is a glorious combination of melody interlaced with four minutes of one of the best tracks to be released so far this year.
It’s a fucking shame that live shows are on hiatus for more reasons than I have time to list out in one review, but hearing albums like Order of the Mind just makes me lament their absence even more. With the power of Order of the Mind, Irist would absolutely decimate a live performance. The good news is this album will all but ensure this band is going to be around for a long time. Put this one at the top of your quarantine listening queue.
Let’s be honest, the reason this was a much-hyped, straight to a major-label, debut was because it ticks a bunch of boxes, and is easily marketable to people who just want to hear another generic iteration on things they’re already familiar with, but doesn’t really do anything beyond that.
That doesn’t make Irist a bad band (there’s some good riffs and hooks here and there., although they were better the first several times we all heard them done by other bands) but there’s far more hype than substance to this one.
Fair enough. Some of the boxes it checks just happen to be a few that I like 😉
I briefly listened to this the other day after seeing the haiku (reviews in haikus are back – yay!). I guess one of the unexpected benefits of living under a (musical) rock these days is that I don’t get exposed to any hype, so for me this is just a welcome surprise. Exactly what I’m in the mood for. Thanks for the full review 🙂