Iris Divine is a progressive metal power trio from Northern Virginia who has just released their debut album Karma Sown on Sensory Records. The band plays a unique brand of prog metal meets alternative rock. Upon first listen I was hot with a sonic wall of down-tuned guitars, melodic vocals, and intricate rhythmic drum patterns. If I were to describe the Iris Divine sound I would say it would be Ray Alder’s modern Fates Warning sound meets Dogman era King’s X with some Alice In Chains grunge thrown in for good measure.
The albums lead off track The Everlasting Sea has an opening riff that would seem right at place on the last Fates Warning album. The song has a killer groove with lots of prog elements and Navid Rashad has a great vocal tone and melodic voice. Fire of the Unknown is a powerful song with down-tuned guitars with lots of groove and a melodic chorus. Bass player Brian Dobbs makes his presence known with a thick heavy tone to create the heaviness of the track. The bass line is even more prominent on A Suicide Aware, a song with a powerful chunky chugging guitar rhythm and a great melodic vocal line during the verses and builds to a memorable chorus. The keyboards during the chorus give the song a Dream Theater-esque feel to it. Rashad’s vocals take a grittier tone on Mother’s Prayer, which has an Alice in Chains meets King’s X meets Symphony X feel to it. Drummer Kris Combs shows his considerable percussion skills while holding down the groove with bass player Dobbs. Thee song takes a turn mid-song to feature some Middle-Eastern melodies to great effect.
The band is great at making everything on the album sound bigger than the fact that they are only a trio of musicians. Prisms has so much going on between the precise intricate drumming, spectacular progressive instrumental passages and unique vocal melodies.
The guitars get the spotlight on In Spirals with a killer opening riff, Middle-Eastern guitar melodies, crushingly heavy rhythms, and Rush-esque lead work that would make Alex Lifeson proud. Meanwhile, the rhythm section keeps things tight and in the pocket with some dexterous bass lines and drum work. The band slows things down on the melancholy Apathy Rains, which features Rashad’s best performance on the album with emotive tortured vocals used to great effect. As the song goes on it builds in intensity and power. Finally reaching a spectacular crescendo. The albums final song In The Wake of Martyrs begins with a rhythm section groove that would feel right at home on a Tool album. The chugging guitar rhythms give way to a hypnotic swirling riff and transforms into a powerfully melodic chorus with great use of harmony vocals. The intricate time signatures and instrumental passages will remind the listener of classic Rush and Dream Theater all without compromising the originality of the bands sound.
With Karma Sown Iris Divine has created a prog metal gem that will appeal to a wide range of prog fans who enjoy Fates Warning, Tool, Porcupine Tree, and Dream Theater. The band is set to take their show on the road for a Summer tour with Inner Wound Recording artists MindMaze. Be sure to catch them if they are in your area, you won’t be disappointed!