Tuesday, September 13, 2005

[Sorry for the current lack of updates. Been busy with my new band (more on that in the not-too-distant future) and CMJ is coming up this week, but I'll post again next weekend. In the meantime, swing by the Red Cross and make a donation, if you haven't done so yet.]

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Picture this: Kiss it Goodbye

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Math metal for the converted

Back to Canada, and another mainstay in mid to late-nineties hardcore. There are relatively few bands whose records I’ve come back to consistently over the years, but Ire is definitely one of them. They challenged and re-invented themselves with every record, sparse as their output was, at the same time peppering many of their songs with sometimes-controversial political messages. But whether you agree or disagree with the content, much of it has lost none of its current relevance and the music itself has stood the test of time.

Ire’s first two releases were a split 12” with Seized (on Spineless and Fetus) and a self-titled 7” on Schema Records, both recorded in 1996. Those two were later re-issued on CD by Ellington Records as Adversity into Triumph. It was the first song on the 7”, ‘Atfal al-hejara,’ that sparked some controversy due the overt pro-Intifada lyrics by singer Radwan Moumneh, delivered in Arabic. It is also the strongest song on the 7”, delivering Ire's intricate songwriting and time-changes in the most compact and powerful form of all the songs from that record.

With I discern an overtone of tragedy in your voice …, recorded at different times in ’97 and ’98 and released on The Mountain Cooperative (the label that also brought you the I can’t live without it compilation, including Botch’s ‘Closure’), Ire tried to build on the more complex elements in their writing. I think it was in a review of this record that I first read the description “math metal” in reference to any hardcore band. But unlike many later bands that received the “math” descriptor, Ire didn’t focus so much on speed and frantic changes as on slow build-ups and sound progressions, noodling through oodles of mini-riffs before arriving at an absolutely searing breakdown. I’m not a big fan of the production on this record – it’s tinny and the vocals are shrill and mixed too high – but the music still rips.

What seed, what root, Ire’s last record, was released posthumously on CrimethInc. and Scorched Earth Policy. After I discern one might have expected an even more mathy offering, but the big surprise here is that this record totally rocks. Lo and behold, there are more traditional song structures, straight-forward beats and climaxes, though with enough leftover noodling and deviations from the standard verse-chorus-verse format to keep the listener guessing. Lyrically, it’s as political as ever. The text accompanying the lyrics concludes: “Terrorism. They hate us because we are the freedom fighters of the world.” This was 1999, mind you. I’m not sure that I can agree that living on this continent makes me automatically complicit in governmental evildoing, but I respect the sentiment.

Three of Ire’s members went on to form The Black Hand, which I also recommend you check out. They, in turn, also disbanded and apparently Radwan plays guitar in Cursed now. Other members went on to play in Saturation and Cobra Noir (thanks Fabrice!). Originally I was just going to post the songs from the 7”, but instead I’ll give you a cross-section of their output, in hopes that you are going to pick up those records, all of which are relatively easy to come by, at least on CD. ‘Percept’ is the second song off I discern and ‘The number on the calendar’ is from What seed.

Ire – Atfal al-hejara
Ire – Percept
Ire – The number on the calendar