by Ian Feigle (@i_feigle)
Irk's debut LP, Recipes from the Bible, is a massive gesture harkening back to the noise-rock duos that reigned over the scene in the Aughts. Bands everywhere dropped vocalists, guitarists, or bassists for stripped down setups that produced massive sounds. They taught us that guitars aren't necessarily needed to doodle asymmetrical melodies over pounding rhythms laid down by jaded bass players, and that bassists don't need to be jaded protectors of root notes. The lessons this popular format taught sometimes fell short because of the music's lack of dynamism or movement. Irk, a bass/drum/vox noise-rock outfit from Leeds, UK, learned from those lessons well, and have found a unique approach to this noise-outfit trope that makes their fierce punk-derived, prog-conceived music vital and untouchable.
Recipes from the Bible is not located in any one musical hemisphere of noise rock in particular. It is complex; it is jaunted yet steady, noisy yet mellifluous, and aggressive yet empathetic. Tags like "metalcore," "math rock," "noise rock," and "noisecore" garnish the band's Bandcamp page, and although all are lovingly justified tags, Recipes from the Bible is undoubtedly punk in ethos. Both full frontal attacks and crescendos of complete cathartic energy move this album. Irk pummels through their songs with idiosyncratic bass lines that Chris Squire or Geddy Lee might imagine upon their prog thrones. The vocals are iconoclastic and justice driven, delivered by the angriest poet alive. The drums lock in and smash every upswing, downbeat, turn around, ghost note, and nuance of these marching pieces of musical warfare.
Opening track "I Bleed Horses" is a full velocity free fall without a parachute. The listener is thrown over the edge as the prog-laden, octave-hopscotching bass ejects after the depressive "walking in a straight line" vocal pick up. Thrashing ghost notes and body smashing riffs dance between verses and choruses. Other tracks like "Life Changing Porno," "Specter at the Fiesta," and "The Healer" all follow similar leads in that they are undaunted in the energy they embody. Slower, steadier, and heavier hitters like "The Observatory," "The Healer," and "Pounds Per Square Inch" all show off the sheer dynamics this trio is able to achieve with their minimal rock formation. "The Observatory" is a slow burn that builds and builds into a climate-burning outpost over humanity's collapsing morale, while "Pounds Per Square Inch" is the sludgiest closer a band could ask for. I don't know what any of it means, but everything on this album rings true of dissidence, discord, and discontent.
Irk's Recipes from the Bible is a new form of molted noise rock. It unpacks the energy of the atom and explodes across the pond, channel, and high seas of cultural hegemony. Vocals screech over the rotund active-pickup bass tones that drive speaker cones to maximum extension. Compounded meters combine with dissonance to create a strain of noise that reclaims territory in the realms of punk, metalcore, and math rock. Irk's Recipes for the Bible is the debut long play of a band we can't wait to hear more from.