Icarus Witch - Draw down the moon 4/5

Reviewed: 5-1-10





Tracklist:

1. Black candles
2. Aquarius rising
3. Reap what you sow
4. Dying eyes
5. Draw down the moon
6. Serpent in the garden
7. Funeral wine
8. Haunting visions
9. The ripper


The 3rd full-length CD from Pittsburgh’s Icarus Witch delivers exactly what is expected from its predecessors, metal in the classic 80s American style.

It’s impossible to talk about Icarus Witch without referencing the past, because whether it’s CD titles like "Capture the magic" or "Songs for the lost", or the style of the music itself, the band brings out that near sacred nostalgia to what for me is still metal’s most magical age. In the mid-80s, Metal Blade bands like Fates Warning, Lizzy Borden and Omen brought out of the obscurity the perfect blend of metal, melody, thought and emotion. Objectively, this was before European power metal had really popularized the various sub-genres that appealed to the same sensibilities, and before the only place to get this type of music was from overseas. Subjectively, this was also during those teen-aged years of my own life which invariably form our most powerful associations with music and nostalgia, and nothing could have hit me harder and lifted me up better than those artists. More than any other band out there, Icarus Witch goes back to recreate this type of metal.

It’s fitting that vocalist Matthew Bizilia to me is a blend of Lizzy Borden (with whom the band is incidentally doing at least one upcoming date) and John Arch in style and sound, not an oft-copied style. (Incidentally, the band and Matthew parted ways after this CD, with new vocalist Christopher Shaner taking on those duties.) Guitarist Quinn Lukas pumps out the classic leads of Maiden lovingly recreated by many bands of the day, and a 2nd guitarist has recently joined the band so that these can be recreated in the live setting.

The songs on 'Draw down the moon' are all concise, crowding around 4 minutes, and all in the midtempo and upper midtempo range, with traditional song structures, and all are effective and catchy, if conventional. It doesn’t take long for this mix to quickly get into your head. Like their other 2 CDs, this pays direct homage to the past with a cover, this time of Judas Priest’s “The ripper”, a good fit for the band and their music, even if it did precede the above referenced epoch of metal by a good 10 years.

The weakest point of the CD is its production. Some times sounding better than others, what you won’t find on here is a sharp, clear guitar sound, and the drums fare even worse, with a generally clunky and muddy quality. Ironic when the bass is actually more distinct than some of the other instruments. Whether this was somehow intentional to the spirit of their classic metal, or inadvertent, a better sound would have been the one thing that could have helped this CD.

Still, for fans of classic 80s American metal, you can’t go many other places, and the ultimate heart, soul, and quality of the performances on this CD make it well worth buying and heartily enjoyable.



CRAIG




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