Friday, August 27, 2010

Icarus Witch - Songs for the Lost

You know what else is catchy?  AIDS

Yes, this album is catchy as hell, but I've always maintained that catchiness does not equal quality. This statement has never been exemplified as strongly as it has been on Icarus Witch's sophomore effort, Songs for the Lost. Icarus Witch plays a hard rocking blend of 80s arena rock and Def Leppard power pop... notice the word metal isn't in the description anywhere. I don't consider this album to be metal, is this a bad thing? No, I happen to like Guns n' Roses, however metal they are not. But don't let the guise of the traditional metal tag confuse you, you will bang your head maybe once throughout the duration of this extremely boring record. House of Usher contains some of the only solid riffs, and is probably the highlight of the record.

Now, let's get something straight, when I first heard this band, I proclaimed that it sounded like a slightly heavier Def Leppard with a sedated Geddy Lee on vocals. Now is it any surprise that they cover Def Leppard's Mirror Mirror here? My top 5 least favorite bands of all time are as follows:

1. Air Supply
2. Journey
3. Foreigner
4. Bon Jovi
5. Def Leppard

You'll notice that Def Leppard is the fifth entry on this list. Therefore, pretty much anything bearing even a passing semblance to them is bound to be tossed on to my shit list faster than Rosie O'Donnell to a free taco. And as if the sonic similarity wasn't enough to twiddle my anus for eternity, they covered a fucking Def Leppard song to boot! Congratulations Icarus Witch, any merit you may have had just got launched out the window.

Now, with my irrational hatred for all things Def Leppard aside, Icarus Witch are essentially behind on the times. Hey, I enjoy Municipal Waste and Evile as much as the next guy, but this isn't a good representation of yesteryear like the aforementioned examples are. Listening to Songs for the Lost makes me feel a little queasy... it's like a watered down, shamelessly cheesy 2nd tier 80s arena rock band. I can hear Written in the Stars being played to sold out arenas back in the mid 80s, but given the current timeframe, it's nothing we haven't heard a million times before a million times better. The stripped down riffs only seem to click in a few songs, namely Written in the Stars and House of Usher. In case you can't tell, those are my two favorite songs on this album. There are standout segments of other songs (The Sky is Falling, Devil's Hour), but on the whole the entire thing sounds unoriginal and half assed. Hell, repeated listens even make me wonder how catchy this even is. A lot of choruses tend to drag on forever and aren't ear catching in the slightest. C'mon, I only thought Iron Maiden could pull that off.

One thing I will say though, is that the guitar players are extremely capable, churning out blisteringly fast and intense solos every which way. It's almost like the hair bands from back in the day, you hear a really boring and simplistic riff, yet it is somehow insidiously catchy, and then from out of left field a searing solo melts your face off and then the band starts sucking again. So what this tells me in the case of Icarus Witch, is that the technical skill is there, but the songwriting skills are not yet there. I notice I claimed this album is catchy, yet at the same time boring. While this may seem like two completely opposite things, it actually manages to happen here. It's catchy like Def Leppard's Too Late is. It sucks, it's grating, but it's an ohrwurm that just refuses to go the hell away, plaguing your thoughts until it actually disrupts your sleeping pattern. Y'all know what I'm trying to say, it's catchy, but really bad.

Now, this isn't even close to the lowest score I've given out, so there is obviously some redeeming qualities. As previously stated, some of the songs are catchy in a good way, and some of the riffs are solid. But, as the score indicates, they are few and far between and most of the record is insipid and lifeless. There's very little magic to be found here, but magic is there nonetheless. With some refinement, I feel Icarus Witch could easily be a top tier traditional metal band, but until then, we have this.

I'll say, this can be considered somewhat of a guilty pleasure of mine... but not so much "guilty" like "whoops, I feel like a bit of a dick because I farted in a fancy restaurant and blamed it on my girlfriend". No, this is "guilty" on par with "oh shit, I got drunk and accidentally ran my truck over a group of preschoolers", the kind of guilt that ends marriages, the kind of guilt that would prompt one to leap from their high rise apartment onto the comforting cushion of concrete. I really dislike this album, yet I find myself spinning Written in the Stars every now and again... it's bizarre.

Try it out if you don't mind arena rock, but don't expect a fresh take on the style. Innovation isn't a necessity, and this isn't as unoriginal as Stormwarrior, but at least Stormwarrior pull it all off with a flair and conviction that really makes a band. Songs for the Lost is a very bland record with few redeeming factors, I'd advise to stay away from it.

RATING - 25%

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