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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Icarus Witch

Draw Down The Moon

Review by Greg Olma

Every now and then I get a CD that totally blows me away.  I had not heard anything from Icarus Witch and my only recollections of the band were posts I saw on Blabbermouth.net.  It’s a shame really that it has taken me so long to get anything from these guys because this record is one of my top 5 for 2010 so far.  These guys are definitely brought up on good old school metal from the NWOBHM era and have added little bits here and there to make it their own.  Are they totally original?  No, but then again who is?  I could care less about originality when the music is this good.  I would love it if more bands followed suit and played this type of metal instead of the euro power metal or that de-tuned sound that everyone (and I do mean everyone!) is copying.  Matthew Bizilia possesses a great set of pipes that follow in the Rob Halford/Bruce Dickinson tradition and Quinn Lucas riffs with the best of them.  Jason Myers (bass) and Steve Johnson (drums) provide a solid rhythm section for the other two to add the finishing touches.  If you are like me and you grew up on the music of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and all other classic metal bands, then do yourselves a favor and get this CD.  It will take you back to time when metal ruled the world.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Black Candles

Metal bands should take notice and learn from these guys.  This is the way to open up an album.  It is a catchy slab of metal that rocks right from the first note.  The riffing has more hooks than a tackle box (special thanks to Chris Carlson for that saying). It has a NWOBHM sound but not in a dated way.  It still somehow sounds fresh.  If metal had hit singles, this would be one for sure.

Aquarius Rising

This tune is a little heavier than “Black Candles” but still retains a melodic style that runs throughout the record.  Lucas adds a really good solo in this one.

Reap What You Sow

Things slow down a bit in this lumbering cut.  Musically, it reminds me of British Steel era Priest with vocal by Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden.

Dying Eyes

The beginning of this track starts of with a slow intro with Bizilia almost speaking through the lyrics. Then it kicks into a classy metal tune.  There is a section before the guitar solo that Myers shows off his chops in classic Steve Harris fashion - nothing crazy, just making his presence felt.

Draw Down The Moon

Whenever you name an album after a song, you have to make sure that it is worthy of that distinction.  Is this the best song on the record?  To my ears, the answer is “no” but I can see why this song still deserves the title.  It is a catchy metal tune that reminds me of Savatage in certain spots.  It is also probably the most complex sounding tune here and although it sounds nothing like it, it reminds me of Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave”.  Both are complex tunes and although they might not be the best songs on their respective albums, they are special and deserve title track status.

Serpent In The Garden

Things slow down a little again but still stay heavy.  I recently saw Icarus Witch live and thought this song stood out in their set.  I still think it is a good tune but compared to the other quality tracks on Draw Down The Moon, it pales a bit.  It is a bit of a lumbering tune but it doesn’t stand out against other cuts on offer here.

Funeral Wine

Don’t let the mellow intro fool you, this song is another classy metal track that may be slower but still stays heavy.  If this song doesn’t stick in your head for days on end, then you are deaf.  This is the type of metal that more bands need to produce.  It drips class from start to finish.

Haunting Visions
This has early NWOBHM written all over it.  It just has that sound that any fan of Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Diamond Head will just love.  There is a ghostly bridge that leads into a great guitar solo courtesy of Lucas.
The Ripper
Thank God that someone had the guts to cover something by Judas Priest other than “Breaking The Law” or some other lame Priest tune.  Icarus Witch have done covers before and they seem to pick more obscure songs so they get extra points just for that.  They do a great job on “The Ripper” by keeping with the original style of the tune but still adding a little bit of their style. Bizilia does a great Rob Halford vocal and the rest of the band plays it close to the original yet giving it the “Icarus Witch treatment”.
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