Design By Humans
Published On: Fri, Feb 26th, 2021

Vajra: Irkalla

(Thunder Cult Records)

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If you’re like me, you don’t know that “Irkalla” is the Sumerian/Akkadian word for the underworld, supposedly the lowest level of consciousness. It’s fitting then that NYC-based Vajra has titled their new EP Irkalla. This is some deep dark stuff indeed….in the very best sense.

Part of a trilogy musical series this group is exploring, the half dozen songs here begin with the title track, marrying a single piano with scratchy buzzing sounds, then we are in the thick metal plodding of “Maya,” pretty much expanding on the piano melody we heard in the first song. Annamaria Pinna’s high-rising vocal sails above the thick chunk of blistering guitar, growling bass, and a quick snapping drums. I guess you could call this ‘alternative’ or ‘progressive’ metal (the band’s press even uses the word ‘gypsy’ metal); whatever they play, it’s damn good.

“Crown-Or-Crucify,” presents a nice respite from the heaviness, even when the clickety-click of drums and heavy guitar and bass come in. “Wavering” is another spooky soundscape, with an imperceptible vocal refrain and a high warble of synth.

Pinna presents what might be her best vocal on, “Sever-The-Tie.” This tune and the last “Wind,” featuring as they do some subtle, high-tuned percussion (“Wind,” even some chanting), might bring this band to that ‘gypsy metal’ territory.

Unfortunately, “Wind,” even with an added phone call busy signal, doesn’t add up to much and is another atmospheric mélange. Hearing this kind of thing a couple of times across these six tracks, I would have rather Irkalla ended with something more robust, an actual song even. Still, Vajra’s EP Irkalla is very good indeed.

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Vajra: Irkalla