Irata - Sweet Loris
Retro Futurist
Stoner Doom/Sludge Rock
7 songs (38' 23")
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Andy

This weekend I happened upon the latest release from Irata, who's been quietly making a name for themselves over the last few years on the East Coast with their doomy, groove-driven sound. I'll admit I initially chose to review this one just for the interesting name (and the cover, showing a loris with a bloody knife) rather than because of knowing anything about them, but Sweet Loris is a rewarding listen that paid off my gamble well.

Think of a cross between Jane's Addiction and some of Tool, infused with a dissonant, sludgy atmosphere and a helping of doom metal, and you'll get a good description of the sound here. Originally an instrumental band, Irata adapts well to vocals with the bassist and drummer taking turns screaming distantly into the back of the mix on the choruses, with an almost careless air to the gritty but semi-clean vocals on verses. Jason Ward's drumming is somehow arrhythmic, providing a solid bedrock for the jerky guitar/bass riffing to pound the ears as if from a slow beating with rubber mallets. The riffs are simple, noisy, and extremely effective, and their droning groove creates a strong atmosphere on the title track with fuzzy but loud notes. Guitarist Cheryl Manner's solos are in the same style -- with an emphasis on atmosphere rather than technicality, they provide high-pitched contrasts to the lower register while still preserving the bluntness of the sound, even when tremolo-picking, which is so distant and rounded as to sound dreamy rather than threatening.

That dreamy mood, however dim and faraway, can be easily shattered by songs with more menace in them, such as March by Tens, one of the best songs on the album in my opinion. Faster and more tense, this one's wandering riffs follow each other in a lumbering race, in which single notes come together for loud explosions of sound punctuated by ragged screams. The next track is also more focused than previous tunes, with the chunky riffing moving from a raging storm of sound to a minimalist march of tube-amplified notes. The finale, Teeth of the Arctic Storm, takes a minute to warm up and made me think the band was ready to leave on a softer note, but it is actually louder and heavier on the choruses than its fellows, only softening to allow the clean vocal sections to come through.

Sweet Loris owes a lot of its heritage to some of the early alt-rock bands of the late 80s and early 90s, though it's definitely heavy enough to be appreciated by a metalhead, especially one's a fan of Tool's hard-to-classify sound or of the fatter, dirtier sound of stoner doom. Their style appears to be still evolving, but Sweet Loris shows an album with a lot of promise.

Killing Songs :
Sweet Loris, March by Tens
Andy quoted 76 / 100
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