IRK- ‘Recipes from the Bible’

I guarantee you that the friends and neighbours of the three members of Irk consider the boys in the band to be fine, upstanding citizens. Nice guys. Never bothered anybody. There’s simply no way they can be as nasty and gnarly as they sound coming through their speakers. But, like little old ladies that can’t believe the man next door turned out to be a serial killer because he helped put the bins out every now and then, they’ve all been duped. Irk are monsters.

This, their debut album finds them playing weaponised noise rock with reckless abandon, wheeling forward sonic battering rams with names like ‘I Bleed Horses’ and ‘Life Changing Porno’ at volume and at speed, and my god, just look at that striking, superb cover art. The Leeds trio- vocalist Jack Gordon, bassist Ed Snell, and drummer Matt Deamer- have shown their hand before of course. 2014 EP, ‘Bread and Honey’ was a fuzzy, buzzy calling card, and their live shows amplified it with ominous intensity. ‘Recipes from the Bible’ is something else entirely though. This is Irk upgraded, intensified, +10 damage.

‘I Bleed Horses’ takes just two seconds to rev up to full, scrunchy blast, evolving (or devolving maybe) into the sort of bouncy but ballistic noise that’s difficult to understand but even harder to turn away from. ‘Insect Worship’ is a ripper but odd and elastic, not at all knuckle-dragging, and ‘You’re My Germ’ adds saxophone to the mix, because of course it does. And while much of the noise is immediately reminiscent of the leering, lurching belligerence of Daughters, there’s more anxiety and frustration here than all-out anger, and other comparisons to post-hardcore outfits are simply off the mark. This is rock music fed through a blender- not pitched into total darkness but certainly murky, then cut with neon and lit by strobe- a little Lightning Bolt here, some Hella there, Steve Albini’s fever dreams.

And then Irk do some things that are all their own. ‘The Healer’ lowers the tempo but increases the eerie, ‘The Observatory’ leans into an excellent spacey vibe, and the lack of guitars is Irk’s real trump card, making some of this feel almost electronic, like some bastard dance. Even when the band do slow down there’s still little time to catch your breath though. These songs are made to make you uncomfortable, to creepy crawl all over you. At times it’s like Irk are genuinely testing you, taking twisted glee in pushing envelopes and patience. ‘Recipes…’ isn’t interested in growing on you then but stick with it and multiple listens do reveal uncanny ear worms lurking in the murk. That, or there’s a hypnotic cue buried in this blitzkrieg bop to keep you coming back for more.

Nice guys. Nasty noise. Monstrous.

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