Album: Confusion | Emptiness | Death
What waits for us at the end? How many people have spent their entire lives trying to figure it out? How many people have died just to know? More importantly—why does it matter? Why does any of this really matter?
If you’re asking New Jersey/Pennsylvanian deathcore outfit Irrita, you may as well not—because they’re just as inclined to tell you that it doesn’t matter. Not all. Never did. Never will. This is abundantly clear on their long-awaited debut full-length effort, aptly titles Confusion | Emptiness | Death. Traversing the existential void in an effort to answer questions regarding the fruitless nature of human existence, Irrita’s breakout record stands a loosely conceptual adventure into the perilous state of the human condition. All the while, it succeeds as one of the most bewildering and heavy release 2018–and years before—has seen, constantly chipping away at the listener’s sanity with grating riffs, grisly breakdowns and Goliath displays of no-holds-barred aggression that stand to strike fear into the hearts of even the most inundated and initiated heavy music fanatics.
Irrita’s instrumental duties fall largely on the capable shoulders of songwriter and guitarist David Thomas (perhaps known from earlier work in Laws of Inertia). Aided by percussionist Ben Avila, Thomas creates a gloomy, manic soundscape throughout Confusion | Emptiness | Death that combines crushing brutality (“Regret” shines here) as it does brazen, riff-driven insanity (“Manic,” and others). Each of the twelve tracks Thomas and Avila craft manage to combine voracious, go-for-the-throat deathcore with looming, ominous elements of blackened death metal and sludge in different quantities, giving the listener nearly an hour of immersive music that doesn’t let up but once to give them a breather. From the opening salvos of “Confusion,” through “Emptiness” and “Alone,” Thomas explores a more adventurous and “riffy” side of his writing that gives Avila more leeway to add flashy footwork and fills into his writing. Meanwhile, as Confusion | Emptiness | Death trudges onwards, it gets only more abusive, and by the time “Nothing” strikes, the listener is all but reduced to a bloody, lifeless pulp. Thomas and Avila are masters of creating over-the-top brutality that stands not only to put Irrita miles ahead of their previous efforts but right into the spotlight of underground deathcore.
Where Irrita make a monumental impact with their musicianship alone, frontman Daimien Hartranft might be the single most ear-grabbing element of the band’s new and improved style of good ol’ deathcore. With a range that has always been impressive, Hartranft lashes out with a renewed vigor, giving every song on Confusion | Emptiness | Death a fitting vocal compliment to its instrumental insanity. What makes Hartranft’s effort noteworthy is not just his technical ability but how well his talents mirror the album’s conceptual flow. Where the earlier songs see a ravenous display of variety and technically immaculate skill, the album’s back half (especially “Nothing”) highlights more desperation, fear and panic—with range giving way to unfiltered emotion. In this aspect, Hartranft captures the gloomy, haunting nature of the musicianship with his voice, using guest appearances by the likes of Black Tongue’s Alex Teyen to solidify that same sense of listless, roaming, desperate craving for the end.
Irrita have comes miles—no, entire leagues—from their last effort, the Deprivation split with depressive metalcore outfit Introvert. In the years since that EP, the group has grown into a dynamic and devastating display of deathcore bold and rambunctious enough to appeal to even the most elitist of old heads. Eerie and eviscerating in one fell swoop, Confusion | Emptiness | Death is a masterful amalgamation of all things malevolent and murderous—a strong but late contender for one of 2018’s top heavy releases.
For Fans Of: Black Tongue, Bodysnatcher, Oceano
By: Connor Welsh