Irata and Freedom Hawk
Hard Rock – Friday, February 17, 2017 ~ 7 pm
Formed in 2007, IRATA was at first an instrumental group with guitars, bass, percussion and saxophone, the combination resulting in an inundation of unforgettably soaring, effects-laden hooks. The trio recorded a self-titled full-length album which was released by North Carolina record label, Silber Media, as they played live locally, landing gigs with notable acts such as Jucifer and The Bronzed Chorus. After the departure of one member, drummer Jason Ward and bassist Jon Case forged ahead, adding vocals to their arsenal. Experimenting with different lineups, the two worked mainly as a duo, until the guitarist position was eventually filled by local metalhead, Cheryl Manner, whose brutally heavy riffs breathed a new sound into IRATA; the one they were looking for.
In late 2010, IRATA went into the studio to record. Philip Cope of Kylesa was carefully selected for his experience in the genre to produce what was to become the band’s first EP, Vultures. Shortly after recording, however, Manner went on hiatus from the band. Another local guitarist was recruited to fill in at shows, and Vultures remained unreleased. In early 2012, Case and Ward began booking an East Coast tour. Unable to find an available guitarist, they reached out to Cheryl, who agreed to go and has since become a permanent member of the band. Vultures was finally released in November by Silber Media for the tour. Greensboro native Nick Brown approached the band about a new record label focusing on North Carolina bands called Crimson Eye Records. The recorded the track “Semjase” with Philip Cope at the Jam Room Studios in 2013 and released by Crimson Eye Records in June 2014 as a split with Solar Halos. Determined to keep pressing forward, IRATA returned to The Jam Room with Cope in 2015 to record a new full-length album. The record, entitled Sweet Loris, was introduced to the Retro Futurist record label, and a partnership was born.
Emanating from the barrier dunes of Virginia, Freedom Hawk’s heavy riffs, rolling groove, and soulful guitar melodies to produce a sound that is distinctly their own. The trio’s brand of heavy rock capitalizes on the best of the heavy ‘70s, but presents a fuzzy take that’s modern and based around quality songwriting rather than style-over-substance retro posturing.
Guitarist/vocalist T.R. Morton, bassist Mark Cave and drummer Lenny Hines made their debut on Small Stone with 2011’s Holding On. The follow-up, and their fourth album overall, is Into Your Mind, which brings a new dynamic to their buttery fuzz with all the stomp and swagger one could ask for after Holding On, but with a more pointed delivery, assured and farther ranging than their last time out, grown more into their style than ever before.
Songs like “Journey Home, “Lost in Space” and “The Line” push the boundaries of what Freedom Hawk have previously accomplished sonically, bringing in elements of laid back psychedelia and space rock to the band’s otherwise terrestrial song-craft. Veterans already of Roadburn in the Netherlands, Freedom Hawk return to Europe in support of Into Your Mind, playing Germany’s Freak Valley Festival prior to the release with more live dates to follow as they continue to expand their reach both in terms of music and fan-base around the world.