I listened to and enjoyed 2020’s Perspicacity far more than I expected to, so when Irkalla appeared I was keen to explore it. Two things struck me about the band’s new release before I’d even pressed play – the first was the difference in length, (Irkalla‘s 41 minutes/8 tracks vs Perspicacity‘s 59 minutes/13 tracks), and the second was the significant lineup changes, including a new drummer, (from Benighted/Mithridatic), and a change in vocal duties to Aronious’ previous guitarist who has now rejoined the band.
Irkalla brings together technical, progressive, and dissonant death metal into an enticing modern package. With the new lineup has come a change in direction; Aronious’ style from Perspicacity is till recognisable to a point, but Irkalla is a definitely not the same album regurgitated.
The songwriting is complex and twisted, with mindbending structures and atypical arrangements. The drumming is a technical powerhouse, yet remains nuanced. The bass is happy doing its own complicated thing, yet merges with the rest of the music remarkably seamlessly. The guitars are just all over the place, with precision speed and dextrous riffs that seem impossibly intricate. Of the eight tracks here, only six of them are actual songs, (there’s an intro and outro, both of which are about as essential as any other intro or outro out there), but each one of these is a monster of technicality.
Overall Irkalla has a more dissonant and atmospheric feel than Perspicacity. It’s dense and impenetrable in some ways, but inviting and absorbing in others. Due to the increased atmospheric side, Irkalla also offers more emotion and feeling than Perspicacity did, which is no bad thing at all. It’s an album that flows and mutates as it unfolds, both within songs and from one track to the next. It’s best taken in holistically, and from the viewpoint of the band providing a textured tapestry of mood-based progressive technicality for the listener to become lost in.
The new singer is less inhumanly guttural than the last singer, and more daemonically evil. His voice falls between a sort of old-school death metal sound and a malevolent blackened one. The vocals suit the music and work with it well. There are also some additional vocals such as chants and clean singing, which are well-realised and performed.
Irkalla is a satisfying and rewarding listen. This is a rampant technical death metal album that’s been swamped in dissonance, with an injection of elements of bands such as Ulcerate, Nero di Marte, and Gorguts into the Aronious sound. The results are impressive, and Irkalla is a worthy successor to Perspicacity. Does it eclipse it? You know, I think it just might.
Very highly recommended.