Photos By Susy Irais Reyes
2020 WAS THE SLOG we all want to forget, but don’t be too hasty: there were some killer records you might have missed. If Order of the Mind, the debut of Atlanta, Georgia-based Irist was one of them, pay attention, for it’s one of those rare debuts that sees a band rampage out of the blocks with brazen clarity of sound and vision, leaving you with the tantalising prospect of their future potential.
Raging at the perfect juncture between accessible bombast, progressive experimentation and raw-edged extremity, it’s seen them draw comparisons with fellow Atlanteans Mastodon and French titans Gojira. It’s a style that could read as calculated, but as vocalist Rodrigo Carvalho attests, it’s purely accidental.
“Nothing we do as far as writing is really conscious other than the technical stuff,” he explains. “Stylistically, we do what we feel like doing. We listen to all kinds of music but our personal preferences are certainly varied! We’re honoured to be put in the same sentence as such bands, but I find our sound to be more in the vein of post-metal and post-hardcore. Still, no one gets to decide other bands’ sound; it’s really a personal thing.”
As mentioned, Irist are based in Atlanta, but only two of the five—guitarist Adam Mitchel and drummer Jason Belisha—are originally from there, with Carvalho, guitarist Pablo Davila and bassist Bruno Segovia emigrating from Brazil, Argentina and Chile, respectively. “For us and our families, moving to the U.S. was motivated by the same reasons most immigrant families move here,” Carvalho explains: “to find a better life.”
Davila and Segovia were making music together pre-Irist, with Carvalho joining after he saw their Craigslist ad. “We spent most of our early days as a band devoted to writing; endless hours confined in our studio space.”
Given the members’ diverse origins it’s usually at this point that a journalist may choose to scrutinise its impact on their sound, but that’s an observation Carvalho is uninterested in pursuing.
“I grew up listening to bands from all over [the world] and never felt the need to categorise them,” he stresses. “I do not want to support anything that feeds into the ‘us versus them’ mindset that is so prominent among several world leaders today. I find that this need to categorise bands, or people, in a way that separates them based on money, culture, side of the world, whatever, is damaging. I just want people to focus on our art.”
This is a tension he explores lyrically, amongst other issues, on the record. “The general theme is overcoming,” Carvalho notes. “Overcoming challenges of all sorts—most of them psychological. [For example,] the title track talks about overcoming challenges of self-image. However, other songs like ‘Dead Prayers’ are more political. They talk about the rise of the gospel of prosperity and the damage it causes, especially in developing countries.”
Released in March 2020, just as the proverbial shit hit the fan, Order of the Mind was never given the touring ceremony it so richly deserved. The band, on a high off the back of its release, did the only thing they could do: started writing a follow-up. Carvalho is keen to tease what they have in store: “We were excited and wanted to keep the good vibes going. After a while, though, we started to see the magnitude [of the pandemic] and decided to take a break. We’re getting together again [soon] to talk about what the hell happened and where we go from here. We can't wait to play Order of the Mind live in the second half of 2021, but who knows? There might be even more [music] coming!” —TOM O’BOYLE