These Are The Arms

Written by: DR on 13/01/2012 22:41:09

Ira, from Germany, apparently have an intriguing back-catalogue of albums. Their 2005 debut, "The Body And The Soil", was a supposed mesh of styles ranging from Neurosis-inspired metal to cinematic post-rock akin to Mogwai, with the likes of Cave In and Deftones referenced between. Their sophomore album, "Visions of a Landscape", focused less on walls-of-sound and more on melody and vocal prescence.

Now we have their third album, "These Are The Arms", which is miserable, but through its misery it aims to find beauty. It's an odd record, though, that's for sure, because I'm not quite sure how to describe its sound. The expansive compositions would make it all too easy to slap a post-rock tag on it, but hints of the genre are only faint; there's a progressive element to the dreamy guitar-lines as heard in "Hydrophobia", but this is merely a genre they draw from; the vocals sound like that of a once metal vocalist trying to stretch his voice to become soaring and emotive, actually having a nu-metal vibe to them.

Perhaps their press release was right: " you’d be best advised not to label them at all".

However, despite being hard to pigeon-hole, unfortunate elements of this band see themselves getting in the way of themselves. From an instrumental perspective this band is impressive, as their compositions simultaneously throwback to 70s prog-rock and 80s metal and draw from slightly more modern influences like Tool, and there's probably still some Mogwai in there, too. Unfortunately, the vocals let the side down. With music this majestic, the vocals had better be really, really fucking good to not seem intrusive, which is not is the case here. Some interesting stuff happens in "Katapult" beneath the vocals, but the vocals are totally hapless, directionless and, well, free of any redeeming qualities, and leave no room for the music to breathe. This ultimately makes its eight-and-a-half minutes seem more of a challenge than it ought to be.

There is hope to be found in the following efforts, though. "EPK", an interlude of twanging and vocal-samples that makes you feel as though you're lost in a deserted village deep in America, displays the band's willingness to venture outside of their comfort zone to good effect, if only briefly. "A New Profile" succeeds because it's more dynamic than the aforementioned opener and less dreamy, to the benefit of the vocals. "Score" has warmth enough that it could slot easily into Yann Tiersen's "Amelie" soundtrack, and closer "Hydrophobia" almost touches the ten-minute mark, but the vocals take a slightly more mysterious turn, which sees the album out, if not on its strongest foot, certainly not on its weakest.

With "These Are The Arms" Ira have crafted an uneasy, and uneven, world. With hinderances such as the vocals occasionally blocking the way, they certainly don't make it easy to access. Patience will be rewarded, if only a little, because the instrumental side to this band is certainly impressive. However, even though it's assured and not necessarily weak, there's almost nothing about "These Are The Arms" that will totally and complete absorb your attention, so as such it only gets a:


Download: EPK, Score
For The Fans of: Tool meets Mogwai meets Pink Floyd?
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 30.09.2011
Golden Antenna

Related Items | How we score?
comments powered by Disqus


© Copyright MMXX