In a strange turn of events, I was working out how to start this piece when I found a mirror image story of my experience with Leeds based noise pioneers Irk. Long story short, having been in contact with the band via Email around the time of their rad ‘Bread And Honey’ EP, I inexplicably lost contact with them, having promised them the world and everything in it. It seems I wasn’t the only one, and it’s a total shame they were accidentally overlooked – why these guys?!
Thankfully, a few months back Irk got in touch again with the news that they’d be putting out a new EP, this time a split with London boys Wren. The seven track EP was released mid-March, with recording and mixing taking place at Glide Studio in Leeds. The EP was mastered by Nick Zampiello and Rob Gonnella at New Alliance East Mastering in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the minimalist artwork being produced by Ethan Roberts.
Whilst both bands bring heaviness, there’s a bit of a contrast in sound between Wren and Irk. Speaking with Birthday Cake For Breakfast on the split, Irk drummer Matt “We were particularly keen to do the split as it provided a good opportunity to get our old material out of our system before we start writing new stuff. Ed (bassist of Irk) knew the Wren guys from years ago and they seemed like the perfect band to do a split release with. They are a different kind of heavy to us, with much longer sprawling songs, so we knew they’d provide a nice bit of contrast to our side. Wren are from London, which also works out nicely because the plan is to get some gigs sorted out together down south and up north in our respective parts of the country…..hopefully soon!”
Irk start the split off with a punch to the gut, and hardly let up during their four tracks. ‘You Sound Like My Ex-Wife‘ is dripping with sludge, and makes for a frantic and pounding opener, knocking you silly with gut-wrenching howled vocals before descending into a haunting closing minute. ‘A Dead Elephant‘ is anything but, and thrashes through its short intense two minutes with a head jarring bass line throughout. I particularly like ‘Life Pervert‘, a haunting poem from a real Northern accent. It’s seemingly a break from the noise, but as it progresses, the voice starts to struggle against a real dirty, nauseating tone. ‘Cibo per Gattini‘ closes out the Irk side of the split and it’s just as unrelenting as all that’s come before it. Tortured shouts from the vocalist fight against utter noise and that jarring bass tone.
Wren are a noise band from that London, but of a slightly different calibre. Songs swell and build on atmosphere, but as with Irk, Wren are full on in terms of bringing out the heaviness. Aside from rare performances with the likes of Ohhms, Wren have kept a deliberately low profile the past year, choosing to hone their skills and work on developing their sound. With this split EP, Wren looked to move beyond their post-metal roots and lean toward a darker, more experimental sound.
‘Arise‘ starts off their half of the split, and it’s a pulsing, riffy, nightmarish saga that descends into a stream of feedback at the close of the track. Epic in its build, this chugs away something brilliant. ‘Before The Great Silence‘ is just a total wall of noise, with vocals the very definition of guttural, unearthed from within Alex Wealands of Throats. Utterly pounding and unrelenting, it jaggedly leads into the final track of the EP, the up-tempo ‘An Approach.‘ A dominating riff battles with a proper groovy bass line, as vocals are spat out from far within. As the track fades out to feedback, it’s just enough time to pick your brain up off the floor. Powerful!
The split EP is available now for the low, low price of three English pounds, and both bands will be performing together up and down the country in the coming months.
Check out the split with Wren below, and don’t sleep on Irk like I almost did.