IRIS DIVINE Streaming New Album At BraveWords - "Bold Sums It Up Rather Nicely For Us"
March 25, 2015, 8 years ago
Northern Virginia-based trio, Iris Divine, are gearing up for the release of their debut album, Karma Sown, out worldwide on CD and digitally on March 31st by The Laser's Edge's progressive metal subdivision, Sensory Records. BraveWords is streaming the album in its entirety below:
With a brand of emotional, progressive hard rock/metal not quite like anything else out there, Iris Divine is musically rooted in the raw energy and rhythmic interplay of Rush and King's X, according to a press release. Fans of dark, guitar-driven rock bands from Alice In Chains, Deftones to the contemporary metal riffing of Lamb Of God and Pantera, will connect to the heavy core of the band's modern sound. Add to that progressive complexity and moody synths inspired by Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree, and a liberal dose of memorable hooks and melodies, to understand some elements of the band's sound. And yet, the band has a distinct identity, not quite sounding like any of the aforementioned bands, and with an emotional urgency that pulls subtly from alternative and other influences.
Kris Combs (drums, keys/programming) was kind enough to answer a few of BraveWords' pointed questions:
BraveWords: It is a bold step to deliver heaviness as a trio and we are all aware of the very few that have succeeded. What is Iris Divine’s “modus operandi”?
Combs: “I think ‘bold’ sums it up rather nicely for us. We embrace the idea of atypical song lengths, structures, etc, and we’re not afraid to mix a wealth of styles within the same song as long as well believe it makes sense. We love experimenting and trying new concepts. I’m personally not one for complacency and I always have that in my head when we’re writing.”
BraveWords: Do you feel limited as a three-piece? Describe the creation process and how it transforms live.
Combs: “Not even a little bit. I think it can actually be more limiting to have five people in a band because then you’re dealing with more opinions, egos, etc. Sure, you might have a thicker sound at times, but we’re very streamlined in the way we work and we need that for the kind of music we write. We can spend hours on one section of a song that’s four bars. I couldn’t image how long that would take with more people. From a creation perspective, Navid (Rashid; vocals, guitar) is pretty much the well that we draw from. He’s constantly writing. He just…never stops. He’ll bring in an idea and walk Brian and I through it and from there, we’ll jam on the parts and then start playing with variations, arrangement ideas, etc. We don’t really work that differently from any band that has a strong songwriter type in the fold aside from me getting pretty heavily involved in the arrangement process. In a live setting, there’s not that much variation in comparison to our recordings. Navid runs dual cabs on stage to thicken up our sound, Brian handles the backing vocals, and then the keys/programming are sampled backing tracks. Backing tracks seem to get a bit of criticism these days, but I think as long as you aren’t sampling vocals or guitar solos then it’s not that big of a deal. The parts we’re sampling are quite minimalistic and are there mostly for ambience.”
BraveWords: You are not shy about your influences, but what does Iris Divine bring fresh to the scene?
Combs: “I don’t see a reason to be shy about them. I think it helps people understand where we’re coming from. We definitely have an interesting mix of influences between the three of us. For example, I’m listing to Solar Fields right now, but I bet if you ask Navid what he’s listening to, it’s probably Fear Factory or Taylor Swift. I think the ‘freshness’ comes in when you bring ALL of these varied influences together and create something on the foundation of progressive metal; we’re hoping there’s something for everyone.”
BraveWords: How do you balance the fine line between deeply-rooted prog and angrier soundscapes?
Combs: “This is so cliché and subjective, but it comes down to what the song is asking for. I don’t think it make sense to have a crazy, odd-time instrumental section in a song like ‘Apathy Rains’ because then you would lose that heavy sense of melancholy. But a song like ‘Fire Of The Unknown’, which is more of an upbeat, but heavy song….it has more of a playfulness overall to it. It’s those kinds of songs where a wacky middle section makes more sense. Another point would be that none of us really think about the odd-time side of our band as much as you might think. We just happen to naturally write that way. I don’t sit at the drumkit and think, ‘I need to write something in 17/16.” It’s definitely more of a thing where I’m sitting with Navid and he plays a riff that I think “maybe it would feel better with one less 8th note.’ We’re definitely not about forcing that just for the sake of it, and many of our listeners have said as much.”
BraveWords: Talk about the stirring album artwork.
Combs: “We had the title of the album first, which come from a lyric in ‘Mother’s Prayer’. I’m kind of the defacto art guy in the band, so the guys left it up to me to come up with a concept. Typically, I don’t like artwork that literally sums up the title of the album and leaves any questions at the door, but I didn’t like the idea of doing something plain or from left field that left too many questions, so I came up with the idea of having farmers working in a field that would eventually be obliterated by modern civilization, a literal ‘reap what you sow’ kind of image. I came up with an atrocious mock that I sent to our artist, Fernando Ruiz, and we worked out the rest of the details from there.”
BraveWords: Following the release of the new album, how does Iris Divine intend to take over the world?!
Combs: “Brute force! And if that doesn’t work, we can always offer up Navid’s beard.”
(Top band photo by Robert Fortenberry)