Irata’s new EP, Vulture, is 21 minutes of chunky, groove-based metal that brings to mind fellow southern metal acts like Baroness and Kylesa. It’s no surprise, then, that Kylesa’s Phillip Cope produced this five-track release. Like those bands, Irata favors riffs and atmosphere over speed and virtuosity. Vultures opens with a simple bass groove that’s quickly joined by thumping drums and eventually spacey guitar. “Old Smoker” is a song completely driven by the rhythm section, even after the guitar sound opens up and the throaty vocals come in. Even when Cheryl Hall’s muscular guitar riffs take center stage, such as on the powerful “Deluge”, Irata still lives and dies with Jason Ward’s drumming and Jon Case’s bass.
Fortunately, all three members of this trio are strong musicians who know how to put together a song. Each of these five songs has a distinct feel, but all of them manage to temper sludgy riffs and driving rhythms with just enough melody to be catchy. This is a strong release from a band that’s undergone a complete reboot since its 2008 debut. Hopefully, it won’t be another five years before we hear from them again.