Alexandria prog-metal quartet Iris Divine meshes fiery guitar riffs with soaring, radio-friendly vocal melodies — not surprising for a band with two strong vocalists. Guitarist Navid Rashid and guitarist/keyboardist Farhad Hossain trade and share the lead microphone, creating vocal textures as layered and intense as the instruments beneath.
Iris Divine's latest release, "Convergence", packages a new EP with the band's 2008 self-titled EP. The new material barrels out of the gate with the catchy "Broken (Arms of Heaven)", which grows from a smoldering, brooding verse to a fervently wailing chorus. Similarly, the scorching guitar lines that kick off "Breathing Sulfur" settle into a more ominous tone, which is intensified by Rashid's and Hossain's exchanged, layered vocals.
There's a notable contrast between these newer songs and the band's less polished earlier material. The older songs still show the group's technical prowess. "Unspoken Tragedy", in particular, both growls and shimmers with the same varied vocals of the newer songs. But the band's more focused current approach puts it on a strong forward trajectory.
-- Catherine P. Lewis