A bit of a reprieve from the forests, pagans & church-burning bands that carry the 'black metal' torch, this review comes upon my radar; bringing nostalgia and a bit of existential crisis along with it in the band that calls themselves IRK.
The three piece unit known as IRK waste no time in opening their debut album with a disturbing and different song title, "I Bleed Horses". The vocalist, Jack Gordon, sounding similar to one that has a desperate need for a doctor to sort out his sinuses, belts out, "......walking in a straight line...."- and if you are old enough (I am dating myself here), you will instantly be reminded of Ian MacKaye (Fugazi, Minor Threat), part of the American Punk & Hardcore scene. The very bass-heavy song boasts a typical punk structure, we, as consumers, have not seen or HEARD in decades with a refreshing fervour.
"Life-Changing Porno" follows; again, with a heavy bass sound, yet it’s the third song, "The Observatory", that truly begins to assault your senses & shake your core. The slow, sophisticated heavy groove carries you for a bit over a minute and slightly after that mark, Gordon begins with a shaky, unsure voice, a direct contrast from the pulsing groovy riff we had been nodding along to. Gordon antagonises the listener with a vocal range between spoken word and a kind-of singing whisper, where once again it calls to mind the music and style of "Latin Roots" by Fugazi; yet managing to produce a "metal" sound that is individualistic.
"Insect Worship" is the next track, with not just a title grabbing the listeners' attention but the assault of the bass riffs, reminiscent of an era that was most likely prior to these three men, that included Nirvana and Mother Love Bone. Without even realising, you’ll be nodding your head in time with the pestiferousness bass and drum sounds; all the while, not aware that Gordon might be singing you a tale of a life-shattering crisis!!
"You're My Gem" is a personal favourite; this loaded song, with lyrics such as, "....just a few bad decisions.... and a few bones of intention...." will wiggle its' way into your synapses, with its' intense lyrics and phrenetic sound; that also includes the haphazard notes of brilliant saxophone player Miles Spilsbury (The Phyton House). It’s one of the most heartfelt songs on the album, if post-punk ever had feelings and was sorry for its' past behaviour.
"Cibo per Gattini" (rather, "Food for Kittens") is the penultimate song on this debut effort; it comes to us with a slightly different approach, the drums are slight in effort during this cantus; poignant lyrics attack the mind, while the drums keep a steady, heavy cadence, maintaining their prominence and importance in Gordon's delivery to sheer poetry. A beautiful song with a title to make you think otherwise; if you do not take a liking to the first few songs, skip along to "Cibo" and ultimately, it might change your mind about IRK.
The final song, "Pounds per Square Ink", is a very heavy song, in the sense of emotion, not rhythm. It’s as though you might be the pall bearer and you are part of the funeral pyre march; a very slow tempo carrying you as you put one foot in front of another. At the 3 minute mark, this marching tempo changes, with the song getting the slightest bit lively and Gordon chanting poetry in spoken word. An unforgettable line jumps out at you, "....there is hope for all of us; I told you that I would make you laugh..." and the song abruptly shifts from words to a piece of Gordon's heart being left with the listener.
Each of the songs on Irk's debut album, Recipes From the Bible, feel like a battle cry that needs to be heard. It’s a "noise-fused", self produced album with surrealist lyrics, made for the times that we are living in where a bit of introspection could do all of us a world of good.
Vocals - Jack Gordon
Bass - Ed Snell
Drummer/Producer - Matt Deamer (Glide Studios)
Saxophone - Miles Spilsbury
Guest vocals - Kelly Bishop (Beige Palace)
ALSO CHECK OUT THEIR 2015 EP: Bread & Honey
Recorded/Mixed by drummer Matt Deamer;
With Final touches by Nick Zampiello (Daughters, Converge) at New Alliance East Studios; Massachusetts
Connect with IRK
Review by Marisa Dymond
Instagram - instagram.com/rocknrollarisa
Email - Marisadymond@gmail.com