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


Anonymous desintegrado said...

definitely one of the best bands of the late nineties and rather underappreciated...

Every post you throw fits to my tastes...that's quite scaring, ha, ha...

4:24 AM  
Anonymous Andrew @ AVERSIONLINE said...

I loved "I discern an overtone..." and still think a lot of that material is impeccable, but somehow I can't gain quite the same appreciation for their other work.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous andy said...

Keith (drums) is currently on tour as Paul McArtney's pyro guy. He played in the short lived Bastardizer, recorded one demo last year then broke up.

Radwan left Cursed

Someone was in Converge

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Carlzilla said...

Man, Ire was really underappreciated for sure. I had some of their vinyl in a distro I was running forever, and no one gave it a second glance. I eventually gave it to some of the guys in Magrudergrind, because they had never heard it.

One of the guys from The Black Hand is also on Monster...I'm not sure if it's one of the guys from Ire though.

I also linked you on my Mp3 blog...since most of the stuff you post is cool.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous said...

I can only find the Crimethic record, which I already have. If you could direct me elsewhere I'd appreciate it...and I don't think Radwan left Cursed, I think he doesn't tour though.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Itzamna said...

Brilliant band. It makes me wonder why people 'big up' so many shitty metalcore bands from the same era, and stuff like Ire goes unnoticed.

Perhaps they were a bit too intense and challenging for most people.

11:21 AM  
Blogger SEVERALS said...

You mentioned IRE and URANUS on this same blog page.... Unquestionably two of my favorite bands from my years spent listening to "hardcore" (using the term loosely). I just thought I'd say hello and thanks for shedding light on a couple of bands which were ahead of their time, influential beyond the credit they receive and who managed to leave behind some impressive recorded material.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Goose said...

very good band. for me, they was a mix of Amebix, Sabbath, Neurosis and Acme.
I don´t listen to their other bands, but I´ll go for it.
I´m curious about Seized too, I never find anything about them.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IRE! I have Adversity into Triumph on CD, and I discern an overtone of tragedy in your voice...

I wasn't even aware they released a third CD... and now I want it. Hot damn, I'm glad you wrote this blog, because now I'm on a mission.

You and Ire both rule.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

see here for the following ire albums:

Adversity into Triumph
I Discern an Overtone of Tragedy in your Voice
What Seed, What Root?

5:47 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

I'm bummed to see that this post got phis'd and spammed to death. Ire were amazing, simply the most powerful post-Rorschach band around. Jeff Feinberg did play in Converge for a bit but no longer does. Radwan does sound for A Silver Mt. Zion and plays in a French pop band. Not sure what the other guys are doing these days. Black Hand tore the roof off when they played SF and Santa Cruz ten years ago.

10:16 AM  
Blogger boywithnoarms said...

I found that 7" used for $1.95 the other day at the record store and thought it was worth a chance on checking out seeing as I've never heard of them. which surprises me! I did a little research and Jeff was in Converge up until 1997 which in my opinion (I could get a lot of shit for this) was their peak. these guys rule, severely underrated which is kind of exciting at the same time. I'm really enjoying the 7" and am checking out some of the other releases. also thanks for the great review it was very helpful and insightful!

10:31 AM  

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