Black metal force Iravu take aim at torment, societal injustice on massive ‘A Fate Worse Than Home’

You know that “new year, new you” silliness? We should try to apply that to society at large and how we treat other human beings. Despite the fresh calendar, there remains suffering around the world. People still struggle with being able to pay bills and keep themselves healthy, and we still largely treat minorities and those not deemed “normal” like something not worth protecting. It’s a sickness.

The title “A Fate Worse Than Home” and the cosmic cover art that accompanies the debut full-length from Malaysian act Iravu seem like something that will let you take a journey beyond and forget the troubles here on earth. It’s a misdirection as sole creator/multi-instrumentalist Hareesh Kumar Shanggar instead focuses on our home planet and the issues facing us with the constant scourge of capitalism destroying lives and the continual oppression of marginalized people, something we can’t seem to solve, with humans being the biggest problem. Amid all of this comes fascinating black metal with dazzling guitar work, a great display that does have the ability to make your imagination go wild, but don’t lose focus of what’s at heart. We have so many issues here on earth that home doesn’t feel like home.

The title track begins calmly, letting you collect your bearings before the track ruptures open with savagery, delivering a spacey rush. The track wrenches and whips through the stars, melodies gusting and then going calm, floating into worlds unknown. Guitars engulf and splatter with devastation, wild howls stoke the emotional flames, and everything hurtles into the universe as we run face first into “The Creature” that churns and guts. Animalistic howls devastate and drive the journey, power wrenches, and strangeness gets into your cells, icing you thoroughly. Dark, drilling playing takes the upper hand, growls haunt, and chaos erupts, rampaging through your ravaged psyche.

“Reflection” is an instrumental piece that clouds your mind as sounds build and ambiance collects, feeling like you’re stuck in a static storm with no hope of exit. The noise travels through dimensions as the power hums and bristles, bowing out and into “Fear and Lead” that explodes from the gates and dazzles with trickery. The playing spirals as violent punishment is dealt, melodic stabbing working alongside mauling thrashing with sinister intent. Then things just destroy, proggy angles jabbing, torment increasing, and the riffs twisting and turning maliciously. Guitars swell and bleed emotion, roars crush, and the final strikes are deadly. Closer “Home” begins disarmingly serenely, dreamy guitars glazing glitter and soothing your senses. Speed picks up as the playing gets raucous, melodies flooding and joining up with wrenching howls. A huge deluge sweeps you up and pulls you under the waves, spacey gazing explodes, and everything washes into the unknown, claimed by mystery forever.

While “A Fate Worse Than Home” feels like a galactic adventure over much of its run time, Iravu’s focus is centered here, bringing sobering realty about factors that tear apart people’s lives. Shanggar’s splattering black metal and intense emotion is palpable, something that jumps out of your speakers or headphones and grabs your attention with no designs on returning it. There are real-world issues at play here, things that ravage lives, and while your mind may want to wander into the stars, you can’t avoid the bloodshed on your home planet that won’t come to an end until we stop it with force.

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