A lot of bands just kind of do their thing—no label, no PR push, no pay-to-play on websites of dubious ethical character for a single goddamn song premiere. It’s often unclear if these bands want more for themselves or their only option is DIY or and die. We try our best to document the underground via columns in the magazine like Through a Speaker Rumbly, Throw Me a Frickin’ Bone and Vicious Circles, but no one’s sieve is big enough to save all the hidden gems from tumbling into the abyss.
For the first 13 years of their existence, L.A.-based four-piece Iress have been among the unjustly anonymous. Momentum-disrupting personnel turnover, two self-released full-lengths and limited touring have added up to not much, despite the presence of one of the most mesmerizing vocalists in heavy music, Michelle Malley. Her raw, yearning howl is prone to foundational cracks that only underscore its authenticity; see “Wolves,” a lung-ripping showcase that totally warranted inclusion on both 2015’s Prey and 2020’s Flaw.
As for Solace (out May 12), it’s an excellent four-song appetite-whetter for the third album they’re still writing. “Doomgaze” is a passable enough descriptor (we’re kinda-sorta in Cloakroom/Nothing/King Woman territory here), but by no means should that be interpreted as the band aimlessly meandering. “Vanish” and “Soft” almost entirely eschew drummer Glenn Chu for relatably bleak introspection, whereas the heavier but still mid-tempo “Blush” and “Ricochet” (this is not a “fire on all cylinders” band) lure you in with new guitarist’s Graham Walker’s tasteful, deceptively simple flourishes.