In what is perhaps among the most obvious statements ever to be made, noise-rock bands are never going to be commercial darlings. To do so usually requires a fairly drastic overhaul in sound (see Nirvana), but most of the time, bands like this are far more content playing to their own audiences while having the platform to make as much barbed, abrasive noise as they like. It’s somewhat fitting, then, that a band called Irk fits that exact description, among the latest to be birthed from Leeds’ fruitful noise-rock and hardcore scene while creating a fair bit of a stir on the live circuit for the last couple of years. And now, with Recipes From The Bible, the opportunity has arisen to nab a coveted spot among the numerous cult mainstays to have emerged from that scene.
And to be perfectly honest, there’s no reason why Irk couldn’t fulfill that goal, and very soon at that. They’re already more than capable of the hideous, spasmodic noise that’s already a good chunk of the prerequisite (and that’s intended to be in the best way possible), and holding that up as a mirror image of the atrocities occurring in the world today, there’s a level of catharsis that’s through the roof on this album. Having said that, it doesn’t feel as though Irk have properly hit their stride just yet, particularly when abrasion is placed right to the fore above composition like with the Spectre At The Fiesta, and while the attempt at course correction halfway through to more angular post-punk is admirable (something that quite a few tracks here try, as a matter of fact), it feels a bit too disjointed and awkward even for an album like this.
That’s not to say that pure noise can’t work at all, and when there’s a decent, more distinct anchor point like with the blood-boiling shrieks from Beige Palace’s Kelly Bishop on Life Changing Porno or the discordant saxophone cries on You’re My Germ courtesy of The Physics House Band’s Mile Spilsbury, the sense that these tracks are teetering on the edge of completely breaking themselves apart is what makes them compelling. It’s when Irk go full post-punk, however, that they really begin to shine, typified by the ambition of The Observatory, spanning seven minutes of grinding bass, a clash in the guitars that’s akin to sharpening knives and Jack Gordon’s vocals that sever any remaining threads they’re hanging on by as it progresses. It’s easily the most comprehensive that Irk sound with regards to capturing a sense of true danger and dread, reiterated on Insect Worship to prove that this is perhaps where their true calling lies. That’s not to say the rest is bad by any means – there’s a similarly stark reaction that comes from splitting the difference between the two extremes on Cibo per Gattini – but in an album that goes a long way in establishing Irk’s strengths across the board, it still remains easy to pick out what feels the most exciting and fully-formed.
But even through all of that, Recipes From The Bible already puts Irk in good stead to make some serious waves in the underground. Even in a genre like noise-rock that’s a bit more lenient in terms of construction, there’s still a bit of tightening up and re-balancing to do before they can become a true force, but they ultimately feel like the teething problems of a debut beyond anything major. The fact that they’re already showing moments of greatness should be enough to dispel any worries of what’s to come, and while there’s not a change that this will appeal to everyone, Irk are making some impressive early moves all the same.
For fans of: Blacklisters, Pissed Jeans, Wren
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Recipes From The Bible’ by Irk is released on 7th December.