REVIEWS

Cosmic Rock

From the great State of North Carolina comes 'Tower', the newly issued slab of grit crusted grunge, grainy sludge, and prog tinged indie rock from IRATA. The Greensboro based band, now evolved to a quartet - Owen Burd (guitar, vocals, trumpet), Cheryl Manner (guitar), Jon Case (bass), and Jason Ward (drums) - raise the stakes higher than the hope of Babel on their first outing for Small Stone Records.

 

IRATA circa 2019 is an entity that is a far, far cry away from the act's earliest origins in 2007, and the frenzied output of yesteryear. With a more structured, straightforward musical blueprint to guide their constructive sonic project, the instrumented labors of IRATA are considerable indeed. This is evident on the new effort's lead in number, the title track, "Tower", which takes a name inspired by a popular fishing and diving spot off the North Carolina coast known as The Tower.

 

Ripples of riveting riffs quickly build to intense waves, bathing the listener at first, but before long, a full immersion. Powerful grooves are mingled with vocals and together, they soon pull everything under their kinetic cadence. It is a high watermark start, yet one that will raise in elevation with the uptempo and alert "Waking Eye", its music rousing anf darting to and fro. Energized with regulated acceleration, precise and empowered by a constant driving discharge, we are not given the chance to catch a breath until a bit after its midway point. That's when the bottom drops out, like hitting a brick wall as things one eighty into a tranquil, airy passage, though one anchored with weighty bass lines. Heady vocals soon enter, followed by matter of fact, and fully stitched in, rhythmic drumming, as things begin to entice a state of slumber. Before anyone gets a chance to, a thunderous crash of drums kicks in a reprise of the animated aspects of the song's earlier start.

 

In a rather unexpected revealing, track #3 is a slight shock to the system, and such because it channels incredible similarities to Jane's Addiction. Yes, believe it or not (and I cannot be the only one to say this), "Weightless" wields a feel like that of "Nothing's Shocking" era Jane's Addiction, both musically and vocally... and come on now, tell the truth, IRATA -- was this track's 4:20 running time length intentional?                          

As we ponder that for a moment, we get a break in the aural action as the beautifully melodic beginning of "Innocent Murmur" takes us aloft. Rising on music much like a serene air stream, it invites the soul to begin dancing mildly upwards. Unequivocally placid, I especially dig the feedback drenched, fuzzed out guitar we get introduced to eventually, and those vocals! Though "Innocent Murmur" this may be, a most guilty miserere it is to me.

 

Standing upon the precipice of this outing's halfway point, we gaze out into the abyss as distant tones of "Leviathan" begin to faintly waft our way. Ethereal and atmospheric, yet rendered with striking, contrasting textures created by the vaporous levity of specific passages. Those are then replaced with aggressive, heavier inserts that grab any wayward attention. The song is an enticing, stellar creation that is quite perfect in all ways, including an incredible vocal performance, and is one of my favorite outings here.

 

Truth is, IRATA really seem to ratchet up the material on the latter half of this record, the lysergic laced stand out, "Crawl To Corners", and the thick pummel of "Golden Tongue" are impressive. The pinnacle of the 'Tower' album may just be its closing track, the determined grasp of the incredible "Constellations". The cosmically enriched space metal it contains is intense on its own merits but, other passages are powered by provocative forays into progressive landscapes and together, immaculate.

 

I have been aware of IRATA for years of course and am always appreciative when a band grows and evolves over time. Such enlarging of their scope is made even more victorious when that enhancement is off the charts, or their growth is so exponential it borders on mind blowing. There is no denying that IRATA have climbed to spectacularly dizzying heights with 'Tower'.    

 

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