With two highly regarded albums under the belt, Karma Sown (2015, see review) and The Static And The Noise (2017, see review) Iris Divine is releasing a third album, called Mercurial on the Dutch label LRP. Over the years bandleader; vocalist, keyboard- and guitar player Navid Rashid has been the driving force behind the band. Together with bass player Brian Dobbs and drummer Kris Combs they formed a solid union. Since the last album however, the latter left the band and was replaced by Scott Manley.
Listening to the previous albums, Iris Divine has grown from a progressive metal band with solid alternative influences, to an alternative metal band with heavy progressive and groove influences. I love the way Iris Divine seems to be an everchanging growing band. Nevertheless, the familiar, wonderful voice of Navid, distinctive riffs and dedicated bass remain some of the core characteristics of the band. The opener Bitter Bride might scare the regular progressive rock afficionado off during the first few seconds. Heavy riffs in combination with fierce, but melodic vocals make this track end up being the perfect opener for the album, perhaps embarking a more heavy, straight forward path. The brutal riffs remain during the following Silver Tongued Lie. The strong vocal parts are both rough and raspy as well as melodic at times, showing how the two sides of the band come together. The fine programmed parts add a nice quirkiness to this track. Thirteen is one of my favourites of the album; riffs reminding of Redemption, great melodies, stand out bass playing and solid technical drum parts create a wonderful groove. Probably the most progressive composition on Mercurial, referring to bands like Haken, Dream Theater as well as the aforementioned Redemption, but all added with a heavy alternative sauce of Tremonti power. Catchy and more straight forward is the following track; Sapphire. Accessible vocals and a punky guitar riff in combination with a defined bass sound makes this the perfect song to start with, if you are not really familiar with Iris Divine's music. Another track I really like is the heavy instrumental Death By Consensus. A wonderful showcase that proves, you don't always need vocals to create a perfect song. And while we are at it, let's just throw in another powerful composition; Negative Seed, is heavy, but very different from the other tracks. Brutal staccato vocals tend to lead this track more into the spheres of bands like Korn than any progressive rock band. Although the song has some tremendous riffs and a cool guitar solo, for me, it lacks a bit of adventure. Breaking The Paradigm makes up for the previous song, progressive melancholy vocals with heavy riffs and progressive melodies make this a powerhouse. The final composition on the album is the tittle track: Mercurial. A fine progressive alternative song, where Alice in Chains would have been when they had added progressive elements to their grunge music.
In the end, Mercurial turns out to be another step up on Iris Divine's ladder. Definitely more alternative, grunge influences, especially during the last songs on the album. But progressive enough for the progressive rock and metal fans.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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