*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured State*
This month’s State is Virginia!
Here we go! Onto the great state of Virginia for our March State of the Art series. The tenth state of the union, nicknamed “Old Dominion” by King Charles II of England at the time of the Restoration, Virginia boasts Jamestown, founded in 1607 and claiming one of the oldest cities in the United States, the birthplace of eight U.S. presidents and a prominent place the country’s overall history. Surrounded by Maryland, Washington D.C., the Atlantic Ocean, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky, Virginia covers some 42,774.2 square miles, 65% of which is forestland and has a current population around 8.5 million. In addition, the state contains the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Cumberland Mountains, Allegheny Plateau and Chesapeake Bay. While known for the production of coal and tobacco over time, computer chips have recently surpassed both combined as the top grossing exports. Virginia also has one of the top ten school systems in the States but sits near the bottom of public spending on the arts. Thankfully it has done no apparent harm because the state has spawned acts like Gwar, Iron Reagan, Lamb of God, Arsis, Pig Destroyer, Municipal Waste, Alabama Thunderpussy, Pentagram and many, many other top notch Metal bands. Oh, right, we can now add Iris Divine to this illustrious list of bands.
Founded in 2008 and calling Centreville, VA home, Iris Divine is a Progressive Metal three-piece “rooted in the raw energy and rhythmic interplay of Rush and King’s X”. Their guitar concentric heavy sound has been compared to heavy bands like Alice in Chains, Deftones, Lamb of God, Pantera all the way to the progressive sounds of Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree, with a subtle nod to Contemporary Alternative intermingled throughout. For fans of any or all of these bands, Iris Divine certainly have a lot to offer, but stand out with their unique, emotionally charged connection of music to lyrical theme and resolution. Members Navid Rashid on vocals and guitar, Brian Dobbs on bass and Kris Combs on drums, keyboards and programming have an innate ability to intertwine absolutely brilliant songwriting with memorable songs that resonate deeply within the heart and mind. Uncommonly intelligent, passionate, mature and emotionally driven lyrics surrounded by some of the best played music leave nothing to complain about. This is one band that I cannot imagine would write music and then add lyrics to what was written. Music follows motif in the case of Iris Divine. I cannot quite put my finger on any sort of proof that would back this pronouncement, but feel that this is the correct assertion. Theirs is the music of sensory immersion that I very seldom get sucked into so fully. Don’t mistake thoughtful direction as any manner of weakness, however. Iris Divine is a hard charging band where some of the best guitar riffing, devastatingly complex rhythms laid down perfectly to interplay with beautiful and honest vocal harmonies and the tasteful use of soaring keyboards. If not for the obvious stress on songwriting as the core of the Iris Divine sound, I would say that the band sounds restrained but this ingenious method of musical drive creates a sense of tension that would be lost if they simply “went off” as a showy technical wunderkind. These guys definitely have chops but simply choose to stay within their own boundaries. Refreshing and oh, so damned easy to get lost in! This band is something very, very special from every angle. Inspirational stuff right here.
Since their inception, Iris Divine has graced the stage with international heavy hitters like Katatonia, Orphaned Land, Fates Warning, Periphery and many others, due to their ability to “channel its studio output into intense, passionate live performances that balance precision with in-the-moment catharsis”. Iris Divine has a pair of full length CDs available. Convergence from 2011 contains: “Broken (Arms of Heaven)”, “Breathing Sulfer”, “Among Strangers”, “Into Ashes”, “The Seeker”, “Unspoken Tragedy”, “Intention Experiment”, “Halfway to Nowhere” and “Iris Divine” and 2015’s release of Karma Sown with a tracklist of “The Everlasting Sea”, “Fire of the Unknown”, “A Suicide Awake”, “Mother’s Prayer”, “Prisms”, “In Spirals”, “Apathy Rains” and “In the Wake of Martyrs”, released on the Laser’s Edge record label in 2015. Both are extremely good but the latter is, predictably, more distilled and cohesive. Both are available are available at the links below and are well worth every penny spent! Again, music this good cannot be allowed to wither and die due to lack of support. This could very well be the future of our beloved genre and deserves all the support we as fans can put behind them!
This just in! I just talked to Kris and new music is soon on the way! Entitled “The Static and the Noise” with a TBD release date, tracklist and artwork will be posted in just a week or so! Stay tuned as things continue to unfold with this killer, emerging band!
A free download of Convergence is available at Bandcamp