IRIST. A word that’s not a word. Contained inside, however, are words—rist, iris, and stir—that hold not just heavy meaning but are powerful descriptors that define the boundless potential of extreme metal’s newest and brightest hopeful. Rist is to carve a rune (or symbol) into stone. The concept of permanence and longevity is rife throughout IRIST’s debut album, “Order of the Mind”. The recently formed quintet have, in effect, crafted a debut that will withstand time. An iris can refer to a mechanism that controls light received or a flower that has, since time immemorial, represented courage and wisdom. Indeed, there’s nothing but courage on display by three of IRIST’s five members who travelled from their South American homelands to arrive at, live in, and form a band in Atlanta. To stir is entirely musical. The thrum of heavy emotion imbued into and emanating out of singles “Burning Sage,” “Creation,” and “Severed” is above and beyond the outfit’s mere five years together. At once a representative of contemporary anxiety and old-fashioned aggression, “Order of the Mind” is hewn from the very same things that made SEPULTURA’s “Chaos A.D.”, MACHINE HEAD’s “Burn My Eyes”, MASTODON’s “Crack the Skye”, and GOJIRA’s “The Way of All Flesh” so timeless and irrepressibly great. In short, IRIST’s debut, “Order of the Mind”, is a must-hear.
IRIST was formed in the summer of 2015 by Pablo Davila (guitar) and best friend Bruno Segovia (bass). Originally from Argentina and Chile, respectively, both members of IRIST grew up in musical households. Davila, for instance, heard everything from PINK FLOYD to salsa legend Willie Coloìn. Likewise, Segovia experienced a similar range, from Viìctor Jara to DEEP PURPLE. But what really set off the duo’s imagination was witness to SEPULUTRA’s meteoric rise from Belo Horizonte to the world stage. Indeed, they thought: if SEPULTURA had smashed the door into bits by sheer weight of their music alone, then IRIST could too. Quickly, the twosome brought on fellow Atlantans Adam Mitchell (guitar) and Jason Sokolic (drums). But IRIST wouldn’t become IRIST until vocalist Rodrigo Carvalho (vocals), a Brazilian, joined the fold. It was then, after measured improvement as songwriters and an extended courtship with Monte Conner, that IRIST inked the Nuclear Blast deal and the rest is history.
“I was instantly attracted to the band’s high level of song writing and arranging,” says Conner. “They were a new band but already highly evolved and operating at a very sophisticated level, and with “Order of the Mind” they made a record that sounds more like a band that were on their second or even third album.”
“We really just want to create a style of music that we would want to hear if we weren’t in the band,” adds Davila. “We want to write the best songs we can possibly come up with and get them to anyone out there willing to listen. We’re also working towards putting ourselves in a position in which we can tour the world relentlessly and put on a live show that mirrors the unique atmosphere we feel we’ve managed to build with “Order of the Mind”.”
What Davila is talking about is IRIST’s uncanny ability to write songs—massive songs—that are absurdly memorable and yet super-charged. While there are vestiges of the group’s pan-South American heritage (from Andean music to heroes SEPULTURA) throughout “Order of the Mind”, the band’s collective influences come from all parts of the heavy spectrum. From THE MELVINS, RAOTS DE PORAO, and ALICE IN CHAINS to THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, SOUNDGARDEN, and CONVERGE, IRIST fold in, twist fervently, and scorch their faves until they’re decidedly protean and uniquely a product of the fivesome’s songwriting prowess. To wit, album opener ‘Eons’ is IRIST’s intelligent hammer. It pounds with purpose but since IRIST operate beyond their years not everything in the band’s view is a nail. Likewise, ‘Dead Prayers’ and the title track bulldoze the clicheìs of hardcore and death metal but honor the genres’ timeworn tenets. ‘The Well’, however, irrupts before settling into a killer groove. It’s the kind of song only IRIST could fashion out of their varied influences into single, driving force. In many respects, “Order of the Mind” is itinerant, introspective, portentous, indefatigable in its attack, but that’s not all it is either. IRIST’s angst-powered thrusts are distinctly advanced.
“The first two songs that we wrote—from the “Order of the Mind” songwriting sessions—were ‘Eons’ and ‘Burning Sage,’” Davila says. “Rodrigo hadn’t joined the band at that point, so after he joined there were some stylistic changes that needed to be made to those two songs. We didn’t have a complete grasp of what we sounded like or were capable of doing until a little later. Things did in fact become more fluid after ‘Severed’ was written. ‘Severed’ was the first track that I’d written and recorded most of the parts for at my house. The fact that you can’t define [us] musically I think says a lot. We draw influences and ideas from so many places that on paper it seems like it shouldn’t work, but it does. I would still generally describe us as a metal band, but not every song particularly feels ‘metal.’ That isn’t a conscious thing that’s planned out. It just happens. I think at the end of the day, every member of the band feels like there’s at least one part of each song that draws from a band or influence that feels personal to them, and that’s important to me.”
“Order of the Mind” was engineered, produced, and mixed by rising studio star Lewis Johns at the Ranch Production House in Southampton, UK. It took IRIST and Johns three full weeks to capture the vibrant intensity that flows naturally from opener ‘Eons’ to closer ‘Nerve’. While they didn’t have a model in place for the overall sound, the band were smitten by the drum sound Johns had secured for British sludge purveyors CONJURER. So, IRIST used what was happening on CONJURER’s “Mire” album as a general reference. But Pablo says it’s important to point out “Order of the Mind” is full of opposing forces, textures, and layers, so no single sonic model fit perfectly. As for the mastering of IRIST’s debut, Grammy Award-winning ace Ted Jensen (MEGADETH, DREAM THEATER) was brought onboard to handle “Order of the Mind” at his renowned Sterling Sound. As it so happens with IRIST, hard work was one of the reasons the studio sessions were uncomplicated.
“It was less stressful than we thought it would be,” says Davila. “Keep in mind though that for the year that it took to write these songs, we spent pretty much every single week in Adam’s home studio here in Atlanta, so we were already in ‘studio mode’ by the time we started recording in the UK. Also, Lewis is the easiest guy in the world to work with and there are a lot of shared musical influences between us. That translates to less explaining where an idea stemmed from or where it’s going because he just gets it.”
As for what’s next for IRIST the secret isn’t so secret. The plan: to let “Order of the Mind” do most of the talking. It’s time for the Georgians to shock and awe. The fact that they’ve kept the band name private, the music close to the vest, and their intentions of global domination hidden in the social media age is reason enough to expect the Atlantans to suddenly and intensely blow the roof off metaldom (and beyond). To do that, IRIST will be performing “Order of the Mind” live as often as the road will have them.
“That’s absolutely going to be our course of action,” Davila says. “Kiss our loved ones goodbye, pack our gear into a van, and stay on the road for a large portion of the foreseeable future. We’ve put everything into the writing of “Order of the Mind”. Now, it’s time to focus on putting on a live show that will do the album justice.”
A new generation of heavy is upon us. IRIST are leading the charge with “Order of the Mind”...