Iris Divine – The Static and the Noise 01It’s prog time, baby. Having only dipped my metal-shod toes in my favorite genre a handful of times this year, I made a concerted effort to get ahead of my coworkers in October and indulge me of some progressive metal. First on the docket is Iris Divine, a trio from Virginia who are dropping their second album, The Static and the Noise, this month. Citing alt-metal influences such as Deftones and Alice in Chains, and prog metal such as King’s X and Porcupine Tree (all bands I’m fond of), The Static and the Noise promises to be an intriguing alt-prog amalgamation. At least, I hope so.

One minute into opening cut “Catalyst,” and a number of points are clear: first, the production is dead on, not too slick or modern, but plenty ballsy. Second, Iris Divine write some dynamic riffs that stick with you. And third, bass player Brian Dobbs kicks major butt. This trilogy of points hammers their way home throughout the album, and not a song went by where I wasn’t in awe of Dobbs’ work. In fact, I would put him just one step below Justin Chancellor on my imaginary list of bass players who haul ass. And for their part, drummer Kris Combs and guitarist Navid Rashid keep up with him, making Iris Divine a formidable trio. Not only can these three play, but they also write engaging songs — heavy, melodic, and progressive enough to keep the discerning amongst us interested.

As for the influences listed in the opening paragraph, Iris Divine have more in common with Byzantine, and even the latest iteration of Queensryche, than any of those bands. “Taking Back the Fall” is a great slab of modern metal with plenty of melody and ample changeups, while standout cut “Fractures” displays elements of Tool and Byzantine to excellent effect. “Like Glass” has a very radio-friendly clean intro and a poppy chorus that still manages to retain a degree of heaviness. Album closer “We Dissolve” reminded me of moments from Operation: Mindcrime, with its moody intro building to a satisfying climax. Even the weakest cuts (“Echoes_Effigies” and the title track) are good songs, but not quite on par with the rest of the record. The only downside of The Static and the Noise, and Iris Divine, in general, is the vocals.

Iris Divine – The Static and the Noise 02

I’m trying to categorize exactly what it is about Navid Rashid’s vocals that turn me off and it’s hard. The copout is to say “His vocals just don’t work for me,” but I need to do better than that, dammit. What it boils down to is that his singing is just plain average. Rashid’s voice isn’t bad, he’s in tune, and he’s got some good screams, but there’s a bit of a nasal quality, more pronounced in the higher register, that at times makes me wince — check out the chorus in “Like Glass” for the best example. Or most of the title track, which is otherwise a very strong song. It’s a poor critique, I know, and I’m positive the vocals won’t turn anyone off of The Static and the Noise, especially with such stellar musicianship, production, and songwriting, but it’s me nitpicking, so there you go.

All told this is a well-done record, and aside from the aforementioned intangible vocal issue, I would have a hard time keeping it off my playlist. Iris Divine show a penchant for excellent songwriting, accessibly progressive with a keen sense of melody and aggression. That aggression is matched in Drew Mazurek’s (Byzantine, Nothingface) production, with vocals and guitar solos in your face, and perhaps most-enjoyable, the ever-present bass guitar. Despite my dislike of the vocals, The Static and the Noise is an album I can wholeheartedly recommend, and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more from Iris Divine in the future.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-released
Websites: irisdivine.bandcamp.com | irisdivineband.com | facebook.com/irisdivine
Releases Worldwide: October 6th, 2017

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  • Greg Hasbrouck

    I haven’t heard the new record yet, but I thought his vocals were solid on the debut. Looking forward to this one.

    • Kris Combs

      Thanks! :D

  • AnnieK13

    Listening to the embedded track now and I kind of like it and the vocals so far do not bother me. I see it’s on bandcamp so will check out the rest. Thanks for the review.

    • Kris Combs

      Thank you!

  • Jon Hartley

    The still for the embedded YouTube video sure is off-putting.

    • Kris Combs

      HA!

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    I LOVE LATVIAN ORTHODOX METAL!

  • DubiousLee

    Don’t see King’s X referenced much. I’ll check it out on that alone. Thanks for the review.

    • Kris Combs

      Thank you!

  • Malhorne

    I agree about the vocals I really don’t like them

    • Kris Combs

      We appreciate the listen anyway. :D

      • Malhorne

        Probably gonna check anyway ;)

        • Kris Combs

          Thanks!

  • Excentric_13073

    Oh, I get it, it’s an angrier Axl Rose…

    • Kris Combs

      HA!!!

      • Excentric_13073

        The music is killer, btw. I’m digging the harsh vocals.

        • Kris Combs

          Thanks so much!!!!! :D

    • I.B. Hurtin

      +1 that!

  • Septic
    • Kris Combs

      OMG HAHAHAHAHAH!!!

      • Kris, if this isn’t on your Facebook page yet, damn if I’m not putting it there! Please tell me Navid has seen it? 😂

        • Kris Combs

          I sent it to him!

          • I bet he rolled at that one!

          • Kris Combs

            I’m gonna buy him that just to make sure he wears it!

  • Hotshotbolt

    I’m into these guys. Taking Back the Fall is a very solid track. Good review.

    • Kris Combs

      Thank you! We appreciate it! :D

  • Lithophyte

    This is good stuff. Navid Rashid’s voice is ok, he is just singing from too high in his diaphragm, so it sounds a little thin. If he develops a fuller sound with deeper notes by drawing from lower down, he should sound great.

    • Kris Combs

      Thanks!

  • You’re right Huck, this is worth many spins just for that massive bass sound alone. Actually it’s so good that it constantly draws my attention from other elements – and I’m totally ok with that.

    • Kris Combs

      Thank you so much!

  • Solrac Avan

    Not a problem with the vocals, great song, lookinf forward to the rest of the album

    • Kris Combs

      Thanks!

  • Wes Allen

    It’s always so cool to see members of the band in the comments section. Really enjoyed the embedded track.

    • Kris Combs

      Thank you! I always enjoy seeing the comments, regardless of if they’re for or against our work. :D

  • Nukenado

    Hmm, Rashid’s vocals are a bit strange, but it’s no turnoff. The intro to the embed track almost lost me, but after and during the first quieter interlude things really picked up. Will keep these guys in mind!

    • Kris Combs

      Thanks! Curious as to what you’re referring to with the intro…?

      • Nukenado

        Oh, just the beginning part. I thought it was solid but not really ear catching.

        • Kris Combs

          Fair enough! Thanks for the feedback. :D

          • Nukenado

            No, you guys are the awesome ones here.

          • Kris Combs

            Appreciate it!

        • [not a Dr]

          It had the opposite effect on me… My Voivod detector started flashing wildly when I heard it.

  • Caio

    With it is Prog, you’ve got me interested. If it has an excellent bass playing, you’ve got my attention. I liked the embedded track (the vocals didn’t bothered me that much).

    • Kris Combs

      Thank you!!

      • Caio

        You guys have a killer sound. Keep going releasing good music.

        • Kris Combs

          Appreciate it! :D

  • Totally caught me off guard, in a good way. You can clearly hear the influences, but instead of simply aping other band’s efforts, they mold it into their own sound. Hard to pull off.

    I know the vocals are the main topic of discussion and I don’t disagree. To me, the vocals might seem somewhat weak due to the high level of musicianship surrounding them. On the other hand, they are distinctive and I wonder if the overall sound would suffer with a more polished vocal approach. Either way, my ears are liking this!

    Thank for the discovery and great review, Huck!

    • Kris Combs

      Appreciate the awesome feedback!

  • Shane R

    I like this. My thought is that this is a bit like Motorhead if they had ever had the ambition to play prog. This is what I mean: the music is more or less bass driven and the guitar serves to add pretty flourishes and a high register on the riffs. And the singer is an acquired taste.

    But also, it reminds me a bit of the best of the nu-metal bands when they actually did something a bit original: the bass is deep (what is the tuning?) and the singer is a bit emotive (I specifically thought of Nonpoint and Mudvayne).

    • Kris Combs

      We’re tuned to Drop C. Thanks for the comments!

  • 2017 is ten years since Between Buried And ME’s Colors, 12 years since GOJIRA’s From Mars To Sirius, 19 years since Opeth’s Still Life, and 20 years since Tool’s AEnima.

    The song structures are same as djenty post-hardcore bands like Issues and Attack Attack. Odd chug chug riffs with little proggy parts and duteous poppy chorus.

    Enjoyable alt-metal, but nothing progressive.

    • Kris Combs

      Thanks for listening!

  • Tofu muncher

    Liking the whole album, the vocals included ;-D

    • Kris Combs

      Thank you!!!

  • Innit Bartender

    I see… BEARDS! Also, that drum kit!
    Jokes aside, this is good! I can hear the Byz influences, but every time I meet a power trio it all comes down to Rush in my mind and these guys are good!

    • Kris Combs

      HA! Thanks so much! We’re great friends with Byzantine (I’m from their area and we just played with them last month), but I’d honestly say we don’t purposely pull from them.

      Anytime we’re mentioned alongside Rush we’re beyond humbled, so thank you for that!!

      • Innit Bartender

        Thanks Kris, I’m a huge Byz fan although I “only” discovered them with their S/T comeback so I am a new kid anyway. Even participated in the crowfunding of “To Release…” Their latest one kills!!

        • Kris Combs

          Nice! I’ve known about them since Matt Wolfe joined but I didn’t check them out really into “Release”. Amazing live band and just awesome dudes.

  • roderik

    I really enjoyed the embedded track. Mr. Rashids vocal performance is not only good but also imho miles above average for the genre (As for tonality, that’s like saying you don’t like that particular shade of pink and that’s fine).

    • Kris Combs

      Thanks so much!

  • herrschobel

    surprisingly this works for me on all levels…must be the pretty beard….good stuff…

    • Kris Combs

      Thank you!

  • Zadion

    I disagree with the consensus here and strangely really like the vocals, insofar as to say that seems to be the primary draw for me. Musically, this doesn’t interest me, but I really like this dude’s voice… although I’m not super fond of his more aggressive delivery at some points. His melodic delivery is splendid, though.

    • Kris Combs

      Thanks for listening! :D

  • Here’s Johnny

    bit weird to pick on the vocals so much, sound alright to me.

    • Kris Combs

      Thank you!

  • Jeff Kent

    The riff reminds me of Galactic Cowboys. I really like these guys.

    • Kris Combs

      Oh wow! Never heard that before, but that’s awesome! Thank you! :D

  • FelixtheMetalcat

    Great song great video and the vocals sound just fine. If the title track is a fair representation of the album, I’m in! And the hammering ever present bass lines make me smile.

    • Kris Combs

      Thanks so much! :D

  • Christopher

    Despite being on Team These Vocals Are Awful, I’m going to give the album my undivided attention due to Kris being a good sport in the comments.

    • Kris Combs

      I appreciate that! I try not to get bent over things. :D

  • De2013

    Need to buy this as a present for the misses based on the band name.

    Embedded track sounds great, will add this to bandcamp wishlist.

    Thanks for the review.

    • Kris Combs

      Awesome! Thank you!!!!

  • GWW

    The singer presents a problem for me but this is metal and frankly, most metal singing isn’t exactly conservatory quality. Inquisition anyone?

    • Kris Combs

      Thanks for listening!

  • jersey devil

    That embedded track was great. The vocals aren’t too big a problem for me. Good review too, though thankfully I do NOT hear elements of Tool (can’t stand that band).

    • Kris Combs

      We appreciate it! :D

  • garion333

    I’m good with the vocals, though I tend to find they mostly hit home when he’s belting it out like the 1980’s never ended or the heavier bit in the embedded song. The vocals that fall inbetween those extremes lack … something. Lithophyte points out some vocal tips and maybe that’s all it is, thin. Good melodies though. Melody is allowed in metal, people!

    Musically it’s totally in my wheelhouse even if it’s a tad more alt-metal than progressive, but quality musicianship all around. None of the songs have managed to worm their way into my brain and *stick*, but definitely enjoyed my time with the album. Gonna give it a couple more spins fo sho.

    • Kris Combs

      Thank you!