Icarus Witch – Goodbye Cruel World (Cleopatra Records)Sunday, 11th November 2018
Six years away from the recording scene in metal can seem like infinity – especially given the plethora of records assaulting the landscape weekly these days from DIY artists all the way to the biggest of renowned labels. Which places Icarus Witch in a precarious position for their fifth full-length Goodbye Cruel World. Only bassist Jason Myers and guitarist Quinn Lucas remain from the last incarnation – lining up seasoned drummer Jon Rice (ex-Job for a Cowboy) and new vocalist Andrew D’Cagna (Ironflame, Brimstone Coven) for this recording. Surrounding themselves with veteran support behind the scenes with Neil Kernon and Erik Martennson for production/mastering duties, it’s clearly evident that the time away has sharpened the heavy metal output – accentuating elements of straightforward hooks and engaging, AOR-ish vocal harmonies that feel robust even as the music gravitates towards primal 70’s/80’s tones.
The keystone to these ten tracks lies in the versatile smoothness and charged up passion of Andrew when it comes to his melodies and phrasing throughout. One listen to the revved up “Lightning Strikes” and his lower to mid-range mystical nature during “Silence of the Siren” tells you that the man can conjure up Tommy Shaw one minute, Ronnie James Dio the next, and then a host of NWOBHM singers at a moment’s notice. Quinn’s exquisite pacing creates this throwback ambiance to “Antivenom” – the ‘epic’ of the record at just over six minutes that contains supplementary female vocals and is a dynamic ballad in the tradition of Rainbow, Y&T, or Mike DiMeo-period Riot. For a man who normally does not play ‘conventional’ heavy metal behind the kit, Jon clearly understands the right groove propulsion to emphasize the best riffs and hooks – evident out of the gate on the catchy title track plus mid-tempo / mountain top effort “Through Your Eyes”. Myers and Lucas clearly possess that intuitive veteran chemistry for the group, fleshing out a specific segment to inherently build that hypnotic musical interplay that can keep a track embedded in the memory bank for a lifetime. The opening minute of “The Flood” the clearest example of their brilliance before some Maiden-esque maze maneuvers make their presence felt during this instrumental stunner.
The layers of vocal harmonies shine top to bottom – Kansas and Styx fans would be proud of “Misfortune Teller” all the way to the conclusion of “Until the Bitter End”. As great as Icarus Witch has been in the past, Goodbye Cruel World charts a treasure trove of songs that resonate well in an era clamoring for some new ‘classics’ to add to the metal fire.