It’s kind of baffling that more bands don’t genre-blend the way they should. Even though imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, if you borrow from enough disparate sources, you end up with something that defies comparison and becomes inherently original. That fits Iris Divine perfectly, and their debut record, Karma Sown, feels both familiar and somehow refreshingly unique.
There’s plenty to like about Iris Divine. Navid Rashid‘s ability to play off-time guitar rhythms and sing at the same time is mind-boggling, and his vocal lines take on a Middle Eastern flavor while bringing to mind the tones that Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell pulled off in Alice In Chains. Bassist Brian Dobbs matches every guitar note on the bass, at times performing the most distracting lines heard since that first Mudvayne record, and Kris Combs is a monster behind the kit, though his toms oddly fall flat in the mix. It seems disconcerting that they listened to the lifeless sound of the toms upon replay and said, “That’s the sound we want there.” Oh well.
The music is absolutely stellar. If this record doesn’t get Rashid mentions as a must-hear, up-and-coming guitarist, it will be a shame. His flair for writing muscular-as-fuck rhythms (“Fire of the Unknown”) while adding spastic harmonics to the mix (“Mother’s Prayer”) is an absolute gift, and if you consider yourself a guitarist who is worth a shit, you may do well by learning songs from this record to progress your talent.
Unfortunately, there’s a bigger problem than just the distracting bass lines and the flabby, unresponsive toms, and it’ss Rashid’s vocals. Half the time the vocals are just what the songs need, but it’s that other half where they don’t match the key of the song or sound so subdued and phoned-in that it’s absolutely horrendous sonically. It’s as if he either doesn’t have confidence in his ability to hit these notes or maybe that he just doesn’t want to, and it’s a huge reason why this record isn’t getting the stellar grade it deserves. That said, it’s worth giving a listen to Iris Divine, and Karma Sown is reason enough to be fearful of what will happen should they right their wrongs.
Karma Sown is out March 31 on Sensory Records. Pre-order it here!
SkullsNBones Rating (Out Of 5):