Have you ever come across an album that you feel probably won’t amount to much? Maybe something surprising? I have that feeling a lot more than I’m willing to admit, unfortunately. But, more often than I’m also willing to admit, the universe likes to surprise me every so often as if it’s keeping me on my toes. I figured that’s what was happening to me with Irhagar when I sat down about an hour ago. Didn’t really expect to have a seemingly random act from the middle of nowhere-I’ve-heard-of Russia to impress me on a grand scale. And yet, I have to admit, the universe still has plenty of surprises.
The last time I heard an experimental album from the world of black metal that was truly worth its own salt in just about every capacity were the recent releases from Creature not even a month ago and Arkheth from almost thirty months ago. That’s a very healthy and reasonable pause between two excellent pieces of a very difficult style to achieve greatness in I feel, and I certainly was not expecting to hear a fresh addition to that extremely small group for at least a few more months. When I dove into “Sutra”, I can’t say I was expecting it but now I can’t say that I’m not absolutely floored by what it has to offer. Across eight tracks and over a half-hour worth of material, there’s a lot more happening within the confines of “Sutra” than one would initially think like I did. Where this album can easily go into something that much more familiar to an experienced black metal listener, it’s when Irhagar shifts its chaotic energy to something much more experimental that the real album feels like it’s starting. Everything is constantly folding in on itself to reveal something new whether it be black metal folding to reveal some bizarre showcase of electronica and oddly inviting noise or visa versa which makes “Sutra” endlessly expectation-defying right from the very beginning and there are very few of those moments that don’t deliver with shocking excellence. It all efficiently rolls into one extremely deadly package, and I’m still having trouble trying to unwrap everything that Irhagar has to offer with this release but I’m having so much fun doing it.
By far one of the least suspecting but most surprising albums that I’ve come across for quite some time, there isn’t much more I can say about what Irhagar has done here without repeating myself. I cannot highly suggest this work enough for it defies expectations and keeps on giving at just about every turn, and it’s every single song within “Sutra” that keeps you guessing no matter what.
LISTEN to “Sutra” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Irhagar on Facebook here.