It makes sense that Irata, the latest signing to stoner/psych/sludge group Kylesa’s Retro Futurist imprint, was previously an instrumental group. While vocals do play an important role of what makes the band’s sophomore record tick, but there’s a songwriting focus not typical of vocalized bands in “this” genre. When you don’t have vocals to fall back on, bands must focus on the tightness of their songwriting to carry songs. Irata were selected by Kylesa, so it’s not surprising to hear some similarities, but Irata’s music feels a bit more rooted in heavy fuzz rock and doom metal than having psych or stoner tendencies. The bass work is exquisite and often put toward the forefront; hell, the rhythm section is vital to the sound of Irata, recalling what makes latter-day Intronaut so great. Irata’s progressive-ish take on doom-y rock/metal is impressive, both in its execution (these songs are fun both despite and because of their length) and in how well they carve out their own take on the style.
The band’s instrumental history is really what helps their current incarnation succeed. Irata’s core sound bends that line between post-metal, progressive metal, and doom metal (with fuzz, stoner, and trace elements of psychedelic tones), allowing the tracks to feel compact, even when they aren’t. “Daisy” blasts out of the gates, only to take the listener on a lovely post-metal journey that weaves itself back to the beginning riff six minutes later. The songs are shapeshifters, morphing tempos and grooves around at will. Irata are talented songwriters (instrumental history helps, eh?), so the songs never feel random or aimless, unlike even some of the best doom metal.
Aside from the relatively boring doom-by-the-numbers “Chlorine”, this is some of the best doom/heavy rock you’re likely to hear all year. The future is bright for Irata, even if it took the band eight years to get to this point. (Nicholas Senior)