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Icarus Witch
Songs For The Lost

Company: Cleopatra Records
Release: 2007
Genre: Hard Rock
Reviewer: Etiam

  • A step down from their debut



  • Icarus Witch's 2005 debut, 'Capture the Magic', has quietly become one of the most consistently enjoyable classic metal revivals of the decade. With an old school foundation, judicious modern flourishes, a rich production, meaty basslines, and a distinctive frontman, Icarus Witch had all the ingredients for success. 'Capture the Magic' unfortunately never generated the attention it deserved--perhaps due to the limited reach of Magick Records--and it fell to the band's second album, 'Songs for the Lost', to help launch the band into the limelight. Even more unfortunately, it doesn't look like 'Songs for the Lost' will carry them too much further. Whereas 'Capture the Magic' was vibrantly vintage, 'Songs for the Lost' can't help feeling a bit staid, despite a few standout tracks. Admittedly, both albums are growers, but, lacking the debut's depth, it's doubtful that this sophomore effort will appreciate too greatly over time.

    This album's relative stagnation can be traced directly back to what the press material readily acknowledges--nowadays, Icarus Witch would rather be considered a rock band than a metal band. Generally such distinctions are irrelevant if the music is sound, but it was that metal edge that kept Icarus Witch's arrangements vitalized and bolstered their cape-twirling themes. Some metal quirks do linger here or there, but they are consistently overdrawn. The driving hammer-on harmony of the opener bookends an otherwise pedestrian assortment of chugs, and rather than sounding mystical, the sinuous lines of 'Written in the Stars' are merely tiring (and that takes us just through the first two numbers).

    Too, the lyrics have traded their fantastical charm for exposition of exhausted cliches that comprise nearly all of the album's song titles: 'Out for Blood', 'Written in the Stars', 'The Sky is Falling', 'Nature of the Beast', 'Mirror, Mirror' (A Def Leppard cover), 'Devil's Hour', Smoke & Mirrors', etc. Compared to the epic (and admittedly Dungeons & Dragons) quality of 'Storming the Castle', 'The Ghost of Xavier Holmes', 'Awakening the Mountain Giant', and 'Nemeton Forest', it's obvious that Icarus Witch are steering straight and too safely. True, the occultist rock vibe that drives Icarus Witch's image was old hat a dozen years ago, but the band's almost naively fresh approach on the debut was enough to keep us interested and smiling, not rolling our eyes.

    Vocalist Matthew Bizilia has a unique voice and pattern--so critical to success in this genre--but lacks variety; after two album's worth of exaggerated glissando to cap his phrases and it's time for something new. Bizilia does strive for variety on a couple choruses--'Devil's Hour' and 'Nature of the Beast', for example--with moderate success, and if he continues such efforts, the band's third record could be quite compelling. Too often, however, his verse delivery uses the same melodic contours and feel of a sideshow magician grandstanding to his audience.

    All that said, there are parts of 'Songs for the Lost' that do evoke the debut's glory. The instrumentation and production remain satisfyingly classic--with no super-distorted EMG action and plenty of bubbling basswork anchoring the rhythm section--and the solos, using the obligatory old school wah pedal, have lots of flair. Landing Joe Lynn Turner (of Rainbow sort-of fame) as a guest vocalist for their Def Leppard cover was a great move, and Turner's performance is of veteran quality. The song itself, while quite repetitive and a step down from the debut's 'S.A.T.O.', ranks as the most dynamic and charged of the album's first half. Afterwards, the album does pick up in the home stretch, starting with 'Queen of Lies', which features a solid chorus melody, ride bell tattoo, and shades of Fates Warning progression. 'House of Usher' also recalls the debut's penchant for Gothic storytelling and is capped with tasteful and melancholy piano.

    Indeed, these remaining tracks contain nearly all of the innovation missing from the first half--new arrangements, instrumentation, token female vocals on 'Afterlife' (along with a promising but underutilized coda), et cetera--but by this time it is a classic case of too little too late. Perhaps a shuffled running order might have improved this album's chances, but by track six its mediocre first impression is set. Ultimately, 'Songs for the Lost' is far from a poor album, and standing alone would be a moody 80s homage of some quality. Following the debut, however, it is unavoidably a step down.


    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: ICARUS WITCH
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    RiseIcarus Witch
    2012
    Eric Compton9/28/2012
    Roses On White LaceIcarus Witch
    2004
    Eric Compton4/7/2005
    Songs For The LostIcarus Witch
    2007
    Etiam6/16/2009


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: ICARUS WITCH

    No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: ICARUS WITCH
    INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE


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