Extreme metal is in rude health. Thanks to nascent cultural advancements, interests that were once niche are now becoming widely accessible. There’s been downsides, but as a whole, the darker and stranger corners of contemporary culture have expanded in scale without losing much of what made them so unique in the first place.
Corresponding with this expansion, the musical ambitions of the heaviest bands have been blown wide open. Bands like Irist are no longer happy to simply regurgitate genre cliches, they want to throw everything that they know into the mixer and produce a beautiful frankenstein of deranged parts.
Irist‘s influences are obvious; the DNA of Gojira, The Ocean, and Converge can all be found intertwined throughout ‘Order Of The Mind’, and, just as how none of those bands could be described as musically complacent, neither are Irist. They push themselves on every track, never settling on a familiar structure or predictable sequence of riffs.
The album works at its very best when it aims for some sort of transcendence, such as on ‘Severed’, which uses gorgeous, chiming guitars atop its choruses and punishing second half. Perhaps the album’s most stunning moment, the final stretch in particular is a work of sheer savage beauty. Many of the songs on ‘Order Of The Mind’ contain moments like this, and each of them prove especially striking.
The band are also more than confident enough to traverse math-y and more dissonant territory. ‘Order Of The Mind’ is a mean and ugly affair, full of head spinning riffs and an almost hardcore-inflected breakdown. ‘The Well’ plays out similarly, although some clean vocals on the back half of the song intelligently temper the brutality.
Though ‘Order Of The Mind’ is clearly a brilliantly composed and performed album, a special mention deserves to be given to producer Lewis Johns, whose recent CV reads as a who’s who of talented young metal bands (Conjurer, Employed To Serve, Rolo Tomassi, to name a few). His work throughout the album is terrific, ensuring Irist sound as expansive and powerful as their songs require.
The band are clearly green, and if there’s a criticism of the album, it’s that it doesn’t quite smack with the greatest sense of individuality. However, with influences as unique and disparate as Irist‘s, this will surely arrive with time.
Above everything else, ‘Order Of The Mind’ is just great fun. Any metalhead will get a kick out of the frantic intro to ‘Dead Prayers’ or the riffs on the back half of ‘Harvester’. The album, often reaching towards some terrifying beauty, is simply a strong metal record from an exciting young band, one that should set them on the path to great things.