Karma Sown

SKU: SR3073
Label:
Sensory Records
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THIS NORTHERN VIRGINIA BASED BAND is a three-piece at heart, musically rooted in the raw energy and rhythmic interplay of RUSH and KING’S X. Fans of dark, guitar-driven rock bands from ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES to the contemporary metal riffing of LAMB OF GOD and PANTERA, will connect to the heavy core of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. Add to that progressive complexity and moody synths inspired by DREAM THEATER and PORCUPINE TREE, and a liberal dose of memorable hooks and melodies, to understand some elements of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. And yet, the band has a distinct identity, not quite sounding like any of the aforementioned bands, and with an emotional urgency that pulls subtly from alternative and other influences.

KARMA SOWN IS A TRIUMPH OF A DEBUT ALBUM, immediate and memorable but revealing layers and depth upon repeated listens.

"Progressive metal is in a rough period right now. The old guard are either releasing sub-standard albums that only make it more obvious how far they have fallen, or they are drastically uncool with anyone who didn't become a fan when progressive metal was first being created. Progressive today tends to mean djent, a style that has sapped all the life and humanity out of music, turning metal into a math equation of time signatures, and not songs that anyone can actually remember. There was a time when progressive metal remembered the ultimate goal of music; to have listeners enjoy the songs so much they would return to them again and again. Today, progressive metal is mostly the sort of music that could pass for muzak, if you don't turn the volume up too loud.

Iris Divine wants to change that. They set out with the mission of writing progressive metal that is intricate and challenging, but still produces the kind of songs that listeners who don't have an advanced degree can love and sing along to. It's a challenge, and it goes against the tide, but it's a desperately needed revolution if progressive metal is going to flourish anytime in the near future.

I knew from hearing the pre-release track “A Suicide Aware” that Iris Divide was special, and the full album reinforces the point. “The Everlasting Sea” comes out of the gates with plenty of tricky riffing and unusual rhythms, but they lead into big melodies with strong hooks and vocals. Their progressive playing isn't meant for show, it's a tool used to set a tone that juxtaposes with the more melodic moments. Finding the proper balance between these elements is not easy, and many a band have failed miserably trying to do so, but Iris Divine doesn't. On their debut record, they show a skill some bands have spent their entire careers failing to learn.

What I love most about the record is that it can be seen in many different lights. If you like straight-ahead metal, there is plenty of heavy riffing and pounding drumming here to keep you satisfied. If you like progressive music, these songs have twists and turns, and Rush-like keyboards, in enough quantity to match the djent crowd. And if you're a fan of old-school radio rock, the choruses in these songs will be music to your ears. Keeping all three of these in mind at the same time can be tricky, but it's worth the effort.

For being a trio, “Karma Sown” is a massive sounding record. The production is flawless, big and clear, without ever sounding too polished. The heavy parts are heavy, the vocals are up front, and you would never believe this was a self-produced record that was crowd-funded. I can put it up against many, many of the big label releases, and it would win the fight.

In fact, I can think of a dozen so-called progressive metal bands that should immediately hand over their label contracts to Iris Divine, because it's a crime that a band that is advancing progressive metal in the right direction doesn't have the backing of one of the labels. Not to name names, but this album would be bigger than half of the progressive metal released this year if it had the media push behind it.

In case you haven't noticed, what I'm saying is that “Karma Sown” is a fantastic debut, and the future of progressive metal. Iris Divine isn't a Dream Theater clone, and they're not djent. What they have done is integrate all the strains of progressive metal into a singular sound, one that could set the standard moving forward. If every band sounded this good, progressive metal wouldn't need to be underground. “Karma Sown” is the best progressive metal album of the year, bar none." - Bloody Good Horror

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  • Remastered edition with bonus tracks."The group's fourth album, appearing ten months following After Bathing at Baxter's, isn't the same kind of leap forward that Baxter's represented from Surrealistic Pillow. Indeed, in many ways, Crown of Creation is a more conservative album stylistically, opening with "Lather," a Grace Slick original that was one of the group's very last forays (and certainly their last prominent one) into a folk idiom. Much of what follows is a lot more based in electric rock, as well as steeped in elements of science fiction (specifically author John Wyndham's book The Chrysalids) in several places, but Crown of Creation was still deliberately more accessible musically than its predecessor, even as the playing became more bold and daring within more traditional song structures. Jack Casady by this time had developed one of the most prominent and distinctive bass sounds in American rock, as identifiable (if not quite as bracing) as John Entwistle's was with the Who, as demonstrated on "In Time," "Star Track," "Share a Little Joke," "If You Feel," (where he's practically a second lead instrument), and the title song, and Jorma Kaukonen's slashing, angular guitar attack was continually surprising as his snaking lead guitar parts wended their way through "Star Track" and "Share a Little Joke." The album also reflected the shifting landscape of West Coast music with its inclusion of "Triad," a David Crosby song that Crosby's own group, the Byrds, had refused to release -- its presence (the only extant version of the song for a number of years) was a forerunner of the sound that would later be heard on Crosby's own debut solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name (on which Slick, Paul Kantner, and Casady would appear). The overall album captured the group's rapidly evolving, very heavy live sound within the confines of some fairly traditional song structures, and left ample room for Slick and Marty Balin to express themselves vocally, with Balin turning in one of his most heartfelt and moving performances on "If You Feel." "Ice Cream Phoenix" pulses with energy and "Greasy Heart" became a concert standard for the group -- the studio original of the latter is notable for Slick's most powerful vocal performance since "Somebody to Love." And the album's big finish, "The House at Pooneil Corners," seemed to fire on all cylinders, their amps cranked up to ten (maybe 11 for Casady), and Balin, Slick, and Kantner stretching out on the disjointed yet oddly compelling tune and lyrics. It didn't work 100 percent, but it made for a shattering finish to the album. Crown of Creation has been reissued on CD several times, including a Mobile Fidelity audiophile edition at the start of the '90s, but in 2003, RCA released a remastered edition with four bonus tracks from the same sessions including the mono single mix of "Share a Little Joke," the previously unreleased 8 minute "The Saga of Sydney Spacepig," Spencer Dryden's co-authored "Ribump Ba Bap Dum Dum," which is a spaced-out assembly of noises, effects, and pop-culture catch-phrases, and the more accessible "Would You Like a Snack?," an atonal piece of musical scatology featuring Grace Slick and co-authored by Slick and Frank Zappa." - Allmusic Guide
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  • Now here's an album that kicks ass from start to finish. Easily going to be one of my favorite discs of the year. Venturia is a new French progressive metal band put together by guitarist Charly Sahona along with drummer Diego Rapacchietti. Charly found this incredible vocalist from New York named Marc Ferreira and paired him with Lydie Robin the band's female vocalist who primarily sings back up as well as the ocassional lead. Adagio's Kevin Codfert guests as the keyboardist. The New Kingdom is an impressive mix of phenomenal chops, infectious melodies and complexity. The closest comparison I can think of is Arabesque. A tune like "Words Of Silence" crushes but at the same time it's hook laden and will stay with you for days. Lydie Robin has a breathy gorgeous voice that works blends well with Ferreira. Venturia are to be applauded - they drew from a variety of different inspirations and put together something really fresh. Highest recommendation - I love this disc. Top 10 candidate.
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  • "Keyboard player and mastermind behind Rhapsody of Fire Alex Staropoli says of Live from Chaos to Eternity, "We wanted to deliver a live album that can actually be called a LIVE album. Not one single part was re-recorded in studio as most of bands do. Personally I am always looking for perfection but in the case of this live album I truly believe it had to sound live and maintain both live playing and feeling at 100%." One thing Rhapsody of Fire don't provide is an authentic live sound. Do they carry a massive choir around with them at all times? Does Christopher Lee turn up and deliver his lines on cue? How genuine are the orchestral sections?It may seem that I'm riffing on Rhapsody (of Fire) but I'm not, I love them (admittedly their earlier stuff before the of Fire suffix mainly but that's not important now but let's get real shall we?) Rhapsody of Fire aren't the most stripped back group in the world. That said, this is a marked improvement on the Live in Canada release – it's got more songs on it for a start! Rhapsody have some of the greatest songs in the power metal canon - "Unholy Warcry", "Land of Immortals" and of course the utterly brilliant "The Village Of Dwarves" (betcha thought "Emerald Sword" would be next!) Yep, they're massively OTT and in many ways total Marmite (love 'em or hate 'em) but if you would like a place to begin to investigate their work here is as good a place as any to start." - Sea Of Tranquility
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