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WLM Reviews: Iris Divine – Karma Sown

March 15, 2015


Iris Divine - Karma SownWe’re only a couple of months into 2015, and there have been a few Progressive Metal releases of note, but none that really grabbed me. With Northern Virginia-based trio Iris Divine’s album Karma Sown on Sensory Records, I’ve found an album that has me in its clutches.

Karma Sown is an immediate attention grabber. It took a single listen to realize it needed a review from We Love Metal – and it continues to grow on me with every play. Iris Divine’s brand of Prog Metal oozes complexity, maturity, and emotion. The band’s energy is evident and the talented musicians not only execute their tunes with expertise, but the songs are compelling and should appeal to those who relish the Progressive side of Metal. Incorporating a contemporary sound with a healthy dose of some classic influences, Iris Divine has a killer album on their hands. A significant number of memorable hooks and melodies creates a distinct identity, not quite sounding like many other bands. The one that comes to mind initially is Redemption. There’s nothing I can put my finger on for the comparison, just more of a feeling. Some call them a “musician’s band,” earning the respect of regional peers, and could well become one of the new faces gaining prominence among the musician community on a wider scale. Consisting of Navid Rashid on guitars and vocals, Kris Combs behind the kit, and Brian Dobbs providing the bottom end on bass, the trio creates a massive sound.

There isn’t a single song, or even a moment, that isn’t interesting. The more I listen to Karma Sown, the more I find, from incredible riffs, tremendous instrumental interplay, superbly executed vocal harmonies, and some of the best Prog songwriting I’ve heard in a while. From the opening salvo of The Everlasting Sea through the final rounds of In the Wake of Martyrs, the band incorporates a modern sound with blazing musicianship all the while playing a crushing style of Metal with melodic sensibilities. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to choose a standout track or even a favorite. Every song has so much to offer to the Metal connoisseur that one would be hard pressed not to find something to love about each. The band’s use of syncopation is a thread that runs throughout Karma Sown, whether in the riffs or the drumming. It isn’t necessarily something never heard before, but Iris Divine’s use is well done and is guaranteed to keep your attention. Their mastery of the odd time signature is killer.

There are a number of influences that jump out here and there, namely Rush, King’s X, Sevendust, general Middle Eastern music, and the previously mentioned Redemption. Iris Divine does a superb job of incorporating influences, but not really sounding like any one in particular other than themselves.

One thing that I think sets Iris Divine apart from many of their peers is the vocal work by Rashid. His voice is in the mid-range for the most part, his timbre and elocution have a special quality about them, so well defined and intriguing. He sets the band apart. Lyrically, this band is deep. They write the type of lyrics that are open for interpretation – the kind that most any listener will be able to relate to something personally.

Here is A Suicide Aware:

There are two areas that I take issue with the band. First is the name. Iris Divine doesn’t strike me as a particularly great name for a band. Certainly every Metal band out there doesn’t have to have a sinister sounding name, but Iris Divine just doesn’t do it for me. The other is the use of spoken word sections throughout Karma Sown. Used sparingly, they can be effective, but with overuse they just aren’t that interesting. That said, the album proves to be memorable but revealing layers and depth upon repeated listens. As I said earlier, the album continues to grow on me, and deserves to be heard. Don’t miss out on this special album.

Karma Sown: 9/10 – Excellent

I hear the sound in a Metal way.


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