Album: IRRITA – EP
Doctors around the world can give you entire encyclopedias of sicknesses. Each of them with names more mysterious than the last, and all with symptoms enough to comprise a short novel. Most of them have cures—from herbal remedies to complex antibiotics—that make them more a nuisance than a threat.
But what if, since the dawn of time, we’ve been simply wrong about the nature of illnesses and their effect on humanity? What if life is the disease and death is the cure?
Enter the debut release by ultra-heavyweights IRRITA: a conceptually crushing self-titled album that follows a man on a quest to rid himself of life only to discover death wasn’t the resolution he was searching for. Written atop a canvas of relentless instrumentation and told with vocals that redefine putridity, IRRITA is a downtempo deathcore experience that draws from atmospheric sludge and conventional –core influences alike to smother the listener with a shall of depression and devastation—leaving them gasping for air by the time it’s done.
Instrumentally, IRRITA redefine brutality—nothing more, nothing less. This eviscerating quartet refuse to compromise in their approach to downtempo deathcore, delivering a DIY-style dynamic coated in just enough grit to scrape the flesh from the listener’s ears. Consider this your warning: if you’re looking for a clean-cut, smooth display of heaviness, look elsewhere. Everything IRRITA touch turns to grime. Percussionist John O’Meara kicks it off—providing a solid foundation of meaty, malicious drumming that stays away from technicality and subtlety. From the first snare cracks of “Null” throughout “Abjection” and “Void,” O’Meara’s drumming serves to synchronize with bassist Alex Baker’s booming bass to create a low end deeper than the murkiest crevices of Mariana’s Trench. This is especially true during the climactic, spine-shrinking breakdown in “Void,” where Baker and O’Meara kick the chair out from under the listener’s feet, and guitarist David Thomas is the rope squeezing the last gulps of air out of their throat. Traditionally, guitarists in even the heaviest downtempo acts deviate from the band’s percussive low end. Thomas takes offense to this, proving IRRITA are far from traditional. Even the rip-roaring fretwork in “Pernicious” and the eerie leads in “Degenerate” and “Malign” are heavier than ten elephant carcasses. Together with bass and drumming, Thomas adds heft and hectic energy to the most dismal, derisive instrumental approach to downtempo ever taken.
An analysis of awe-inspiring heaviness doesn’t end after the consideration of IRRITA’s ridiculously ruthless musicianship. In a time where talented vocalists are a dime-a-dozen, Daimien Hartranft proves his talent puts that of his peers to shame. Somewhere between a young Dickie Allen and a grittier Alex Teyen, Hartranft dominates atop the band’s self-titled EP with an immense range of incredible vocal styles and a bitter, emotional twist that adds relatabilty and flair to the demonic heaviness he roars above. “Degenerate” sees his pure range at its best, with shrieks and howls working side by side with grotesque guttural gurgles to make the band’s EP (somehow) even filthier. “Void” sees a different side of Hartranft’s skill, however. While his range is still remarkable, here, the emotive force behind the repeated syllables that close out the EP steal the show. Hartranft lets his soul spill onto the track, giving evidence of the tortured soul that gives the listener such a dismal, depressive and dark story.
In fact, if the listener had to pick one word to truly describe IRRITA, dark would probably be it. IRRITA opens up a chasm within the listener’s head that sucks out their soul and leaves them completely empty. It’s coincidental that “Void” should end the release because that is exactly what it is—a portal that consumes the listener’s sanity. Between Thomas’ terrifying tones, O’Meara and Baker’s bold foundation and Hartranft’s horrifying vocals, there is not an ounce of ethereality throughout the release. Even the most “calm” moments on the band’s debut are heavier than lead, shredding the listener’s spinal column without remorse. While this is a refreshing contribution to a time where “heaviness” is practically a currency in the underground music scene, the listener can only hope, at times, that the band’s future endeavors may have a slightly more refined production style to truly make the most of the band’s beautifully brutal songwriting ability.
If life is the disease, then consider IRRITA the magic pill—the cure-all serum—that will drain herosey color from your cheeks and let the life pour from your veins. Unendingly dark and unapologetically heavy, IRRITA are bitter, brutish death. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.
For Fans Of: Bodysnatcher, Traitors, Black Tongue, Beyond Deviation
By: Connor Welsh