Ira - The Body and the Soil (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


The Body and the Soil (2007)

Go Kart

Well, this is an odd dichotomy if ever I've heard one. Taking a page out of books written by Cave In, Neurosis, Mogwai and Deftones, Ira weave a web rich in layers and rich in diversity. Deafening distortion, straining vocals, and gorgeous instrumentation can all be heard in such a short amount of time that you didn't even realize a transition took place at all.

Their strength lies in the ability to mesh what sounds like an absolute mess of styles into a stylish and sweeping epic that will leave you breathless. Lush, gorgeous guitar tones can turn into crushing riffs and the melancholy vocals can take a turn to the voracious and it sounds absolutely flawless. In the 15 minutes of "Disappear," Ira are able to encapsulate everything the record has to offer with a stirring and powerful example of their approach.

Delicate guitar tones move slowly into a rhythmic drum pattern; both are now accompanied by some softly droning vocals, and the three separate sections of the music slowly increase in volume while becoming more tight-knit, until an explosion. The waves of discordant strumming roar into the fray, demolishing everything in earshot with an assault that soothes and punishes at the exact same time. The riffs die out and some spoken word in their native German language rides over the top of some shimmering riffs and the subtle crash of the cymbals -- and it's only halfway over. The riffs return, more menacing then when they made their exit, joined by a more sped-up and more determined vocalist that tries to match the instrumentation in sound and intensity. Remarkably succeeding, the band plows through the rest of the song with a dynamic assault that will keep you guessing until the final chord is strummed.

Just as comfortable in a shorter setting, they're able to offer ambient interludes like "Godhead" and "India Is Gone" that do well to break up the sound a bit and give listeners somewhat of a reprieve from the onslaught brought by the rest of the album.

This is a record that needs to be listened to all at once, a record that needs to be taken in to truly appreciate it. Passively listening to a song or two is not going to offer the appreciation or sensory experience that following from beginning to end will. And from that beginning to that end, is a hell of a powerful ride.