Ice Dragon – The Sorrowful Sun …   Leave a comment

It’s (almost) the Summer Solstice 2011 and the Ice Dragon is back …

I haven’t (yet) been affected by a sunstroke, nor I am on LSD overdose. I’ve just finished listening for the nth time to The Sorrowful Sun, the new album by Boston-based Ice Dragon.

The album will be out on Summer Solstice 2011, i.e. on June 21st 2011, on Bandcamp and as solid tape in a special edition.

Ice Dragon entered Doommantia with the breath-taking debut album, “The Burl, The Earth, The Aether”. Ice Dragon’s debut had been defined as a “near perfect” slab of psychedelic doom, mixing “modern Doom Metal and 70’s epic Heavy Metal/Space Rock sounds and ideas”, plus a substantial dose of “your required fix of Sabbath inspired sludgy riffs along with some bluesy early 70’s axework along with modern Stoner Doom riffing you would expect from Electric Wizard and Sleep” (these are Ed’s words).

Retro-dark rock sounds à-la-Black Sabbath and Black Widow, modern doom heaviness à-la Electric Wizard/Sleep/Count Raven, drony psychedelia and retro prog-space rock, hints of bluesy hard rock in the vein of Led Zeppelin and the like and desert-stoner rock groove, with strained vocals plus some curious insertions of acoustic folk-like intervals in long trippy jams were the trademark of this band’s style in their very long, stunning debut album.

Ice Dragon’s debut didn’t remain a cometh in the doom cosmos but they steadily entered our orbit, because these guys are back with a new fruit of their fertile creativity.

The new album, The Sorrowful Sun, is “concise epic, at once Neolithic, futuristic, electric, and acoustic”, as the band writes on the release notes. Less than 40 minutes long, The Sorrowful Sun is a new set of bricks in the wall of sounds these guys are building up.

The band piled up 9 bricks of amazing intensity, heaviness and passion where they more or less follow the path they opened with their previous album.

The album starts with “Sunrise”, a less than one minute-long, tricky, soft, bass-driven acoustic intro that doesn’t reveal anything of what will come later, the flood of awesome, crushing, even unbearably heavy doom that will wash your acoustic receptors away …

The second track “Flowers” (over 8 minutes) is the actual start of the trip, of the flight of this huge dragon, and, oh, the guys did it again: it is like hearing the very early Black Sabbath playing as if they were lending Electric Wizard’s bongs when they were composing Dopethrone! The vocal parts are almost invocations which almost drown in the amazing wall of sound made up by these three doomsters, Ron (on vocals, synth and, on this album, drums), Carter (on guitar) and Joe (on bass).

Ron’s vocals are impressive, painful, passionate and distorted, so quite sinister as young Ozzy’s vocals were.

The 7 minutes-long third track, Mistress Death, is somehow slower but it is definitely more “easy-going”. It mixes the retro-sounding dark and heavy doom sounds with groove-laden laid-back rhythms and melodies of southern/sludge metal and a whiff of retro psych-blues rock reminding me of The Doors. Altogether this track reminds me of the sound of another impressive emerging band, Wizard Eye. The sensations transmitted by this song are the escape from the implacable sun and the unbearable heat of a southern desert landscape, not images of a mossy marshland of Electric Wizard-esque memory.

The 2 minutes-long track “Light Years” is another short, sweet acoustic track where the band again escapes into the realm of almost flower power-sounding, psychedelic folk rock via just guitar and soft vocals.

This escape further continues into the subsequent short, acoustic and very intimate track, “Dusk”. The intimacy of the acoustic guitar is luring and it draws you into the next chemical nightmare, the impressive track “Interspecies Communication”. In this stunning, almost 7 minutes-long track the band’s own blend of mammoth-heavy and mind-warping, sludgy and drony psychedelic doom is back. The plodding development of the sound is announced by a sort of monk-like solo chant which will be continuous in the background throughout the whole track, thereby imparting further darkness to an already occult atmosphere. Ron’s invocations and moans are superposed with the background monk chants, and the result of this double chanting is no less than haunting.

The last minute of this track is surprisingly soft, again, with the solo trembling of the acoustic guitar in a crypt-like silence in contrast to the previous echoing noise.

The subsequent track, the +5 minutes-long “Poseidon’s Grasp” takes you back into the darkness of doom and back in time, via some slowly growing Sabbathian chanting and some great, robust, cyclic Sabbathian/Saint Vitus-esque riffage which we have heard so many times but we never can get enough. The riff charge starts rather slow and repetitive but it reaches a breath-taking climax together with the torn tone of Ron’s great howls and moans.

You think you’ve heard enough heaviness, but the surprises of this album are not finished here.

Track “White Tusk” is maybe shorter than the previous doomy tracks but, as hinted by the title, it’s like a march of mammoths through the fog, it is a way of describing the primordial forces of Nature.

“Near Sun On Earth” is the concluding track: again, an acoustic balm to make you breathe again, to soothe you from the oppression of doom. The distant, soft, melancholic voices and the guitar sounds trembling in the void give a sense of getting lost in a desert and make this track a beautiful, magic piece of dreaming, psychedelic rock.

So, Ice Dragon did it again!

My impression is that in the new effort these guys employed slightly wee less space rock, but they again shovelled some great drony, sometimes acid psychedelia into their hybrid retro to modern doom heaviness. This mixture sometimes reminds me of one of my favourite, heaviest psychedelic doom bands, Bibilic Blood, whereas that retro-sounding doom-“old metal” style blows me away like with bands as Children of Doom (especially) and Hooded Priest. I am not saying that these bands sound the same as Ice Dragon, who are definitely more like Electric Wizard and Sleep. But it is just a group of sensations.

Due to the great variety of sounds this album, as the previous album by Ice Dragon, is very heavy but not “monolithic”. Strangely enough, though, in spite of the frequent use of intimate, acoustic parts, Ice Dragon fixes as a “heavy” band in your mind.

The sounds tremble in the void and are distorted and “dirty”, dense, three-dimensional, enveloping you like a dense fog due to a cave-like effect of the mixing/production. Even the acoustic parts and tracks are anything but flat, they are physically refreshing like breaths of night breeze.

About the production, Ron wrote me that it was done very DIY: they recorded the basic tracks on a 4-track cassette recorder in his basement.

Well, it is surprising how sometimes “home-made” albums do sound so impressive production-wise. Maybe it’s the doom-related genres that benefit of the rawness of the process. However I guess it is not just a matter of “rawness” because in this and in other similar cases, special “flavours” in the sounds are somehow enhanced, and for this you need sensitivity and intention. You must be looking for a certain type of effect and sensation, or at least I guess I would.

Before my “verdict, just note that the album will be out in digital form on Bandcamp, but check there about the details of the luring package of the “solid” version, which was made up by the musicians themselves, again in hommage to the DIY philosophy. And I’m sure the guys employed the same care and love they put in their music.

A guy on a forum had commented that in the debut album Ice Dragon play “the best album Electric Wizard they never did”. Well, while hearing this band’s amazing blend of sounds in the new output I am tempted to agree!

This is my first 10/10 here at Doommantia, although, Ron & mates, I warn you, for me 40 minutes of your doom are not enough ….

Review by Marilena Moroni

Ice Dragon @ Facebook

Ice Dragon Official

Ice Dragon @ Bandcamp

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Posted June 20, 2011 by doommantia in Ice Dragon

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