Band: Iris Divine
Album: The Static and the Noise
Available: October 6, 2017
Two years ago Iris Divine made a huge splash on my radar with their debut album Karma Sown. I named them my newcomer of the year, guitarist Navid Rashid my guitarist of the year, and my third overall album of the year, a sentiment I still agree with two years later. Following up Karma Sown was going to be a tall task, and I believe that The Static and The Noise accomplishes this without sounding like Karma Sown part two.
If you are not familiar with the band, Iris Divine is a three piece outfit consisting of guitarist/vocalist Navid Rashid, Kris Combs on drums, keys, and programming, and Brian Dobbs on bass. As with many three piece bands, their sound is very well constructed and cohesive, which I attribute to avoiding the “too many cooks in the kitchen” metaphor. I would classify the band as a heavier progressive metal band, and their metal backgrounds really shine through.
Their debut album had a bright sound and generally left me in a good mood, which I feel like it fits the album title and artwork. The Static and The Noise title and artwork also forebodes the feel of the album, and takes on a darker and angrier tone, while addressing those topics that we sometimes want to shy from in casual conversation. I was taken off guard on my first listen because even though I was prepared for this tone based on Kickstarter updates, there was no hiding from it in parts. But that’s what great art and literature do sometimes – throw issues in your face that aren’t the most pleasant to address. The aggressive tone starts from the first note and doesn’t let up anywhere through its 46 minute run time. However I don’t leave the album in an angry mood, but a contemplative one. After the initial shock, The Static and The Noise took over my listening time. I received the promo the same day three other albums arrived at my door, and two weeks later I still haven’t gotten around to listening to two of those albums from established artists I like because I keep coming back to this one. Every few listens, my favorite track seems to change. I had high praise for Navid’s guitar work on the first album, and those talents certainly returned on this album. In addition I think his singing and song writing talents are very much on display on this album. Kris’s contributions in drumming and rounding out the sound with keys are even more impressive when taken into consideration he lives practically on the other side of the country. The darker feel of the album would be hard to achieve without the tone and driving bass lines that Brian achieved. Nothing on the album feels forced, and it sounds like this is the album the band really wanted to make, everything on the album just seems to exude feeling; the bass is heavy, the screams are angsty, the vocals are emotive, and the lyrics don’t require liner notes to get the message. Perhaps most importantly the music perfectly compliments the theme of every song.
The lyrics of “Like Glass” ask you to “Swallow the bitter medicine, open your eyes”. That might be the best advice for approaching this album, your first listen might catch you off guard, but this album will, given enough time heal what ails you, and it will reward you immensely when you open your eyes. There is still time to get in on near the ground floor for this band that really deserves to break through the underground scene. I can’t see this not being an album raking in some end of year awards from myself and others.
Mason’s grade: A