Published on November 18th, 2017 | by Justin G.
Iris Divine: The Static and the Noise
Virginia-based progressive metal band Iris Divine is back with a new album, their third, titled The Static and the Noise. It’s the follow-up to 2014’s Karma Sown, which was something of a breakout album for the band, not to mention being (arguably) the best prog metal album that year. I actually first saw the band live shortly before Karma Sown was released, and was blown away by their very intense approach to progressive metal. Living in VA, I’m fortunate enough to be able to see the band live once or twice a year, and have had a chance to chat with the guys a bit. All of that is to say this won’t really be an unbiased review. I think the band is brilliant and want them to get signed to InsideOut and become stars. Read on with that in mind.
More often than not, the term “progressive metal” has come to mean “sounds like Dream Theater,” so it’s refreshing to encounter a band like Iris Divine that not only comes to progressive metal on their own terms, but manages to challenge themselves with each new release. Karma Sown was a dark, intense, personal and atmospheric album, vaguely reminiscent of Evergrey but with a much more technically progressive bent. A lot of that still holds true with The Static and the Noise, but there’s an almost alternative vibe to these songs and an aggressive modern hard rock energy. Like what if Alice in Chains played prog metal?
Because they didn’t simply copy Karma Sown, and because Iris Divine’s sound doesn’t fit nicely into the genre lines to begin with, it took some time for The Static and the Noise to really connect with me. Still it was always a question of when, not if. I loved the overall atmosphere and relentless heaviness from the start, and the fact that the three members of the band – vocalist/guitarist Navid Rashid, bassist/vocalist Brian Dobbs and drummer/keyboardist Kris Combs – can cram such impressive technicality into songs that average about 5-6 minutes each. Apparently prog metal that isn’t self-indulgent is a real thing. I need to spend some more time with the lyrics, but it’s obvious based on the vocal delivery that Rashid put his heart into these songs. It seems like a more personal, and yes angrier Iris Divine album, especially on tracks like “Fractures” (which has a great classic Pain of Salvation vibe), “We All Dissolve” and of course “The Static and the Noise.”
As I mentioned, it took a few spins to really appreciate everything that is going on here, but that extra time definitely paid off. The Static and the Noise is another innovative, challenging album from Iris Divine, and is one of the most intense and memorable progressive metal albums I’ve heard this year. I’d highly recommend it to fans of Evergrey, Alice in Chains, Leprous, Pain of Salvation, Ascendia and Tool.
Summary: Not your average prog metal album