The confluence of metal and shoegaze continues to fascinate me. On paper, the genres — one all about heavy, crushing riffs, the other about ethereal atmospherics — couldn’t be more opposed. But in the hands of capable artists, the two genres can actually complement each other in deeply stirring ways.
Case in point: Flaw, the excellent new full-length from L.A.-based doomgazers Iress. Yes, there are heavy, crushing riffs aplenty in a song like “Shamed,” courtesy of Michelle Malley and Alex Moreno, along with Glenn Chu’s cavernous drums. But “Shamed” also possesses a slow, somber grace that brings to mind the likes of Lush and Pale Saints — were the classic 4AD bands accompanying a funeral procession in the depths of winter.
The band’s secret weapon is Malley’s powerhouse vocals. Though not as airily dreamy as those of Miki Berenyi, Emma Anderson, or Meriel Barham, they still soar in a sorrowful, world-weary manner that transforms Iress’ sonic dolor into something absolutely majestic. (If you need more evidence of this after listening to “Shamed,” then check out Malley’s anguished lament on the epic, 7-minute-long “Shallow.”)