ICECROSS

Heavy Psych • Iceland
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Not even 300,000 people live in Iceland, so remarking about the lack of bands from this island would be quite asinine, though compared to their immense neighbor Greenland, Iceland was a veritable hotbed. The foursome is one of the more well-known bands from this area, which really isn’t saying much ‘cause their sole release will still run you around $400 in the end.

Despite the aid of three reputable sources, a discrepancy of the year (1972-73) this lp was originally released still remains, but what’s one year (or even two months: Dec-Jan.). I don’t think the extra time would’ve improved on this much.

The album was recorded in Rosenberg Studio Copenhagen 1973 Issued in Iceland only. And just 1000 copies were made.
Thanks to Certif1ed for the addition and cannon, 666sharon666 for the updates

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ICECROSS Icecross album cover 3.47 | 7 ratings
Icecross
Heavy Psych 1973

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ICECROSS Icecross

Album · 1973 · Heavy Psych
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Early hard rock and heavy metal was primarily limited to the British scene with obvious candidates like Black Sabbath and Budgie wresting control of the style away from its heavy psych origins however it didn’t take long for American bands like The Stooges, Blue Oyster Cult and eventually Van Halen to take the heavier aspects of hard rock into more demanding territories. One of the more interesting bands to emerge from this early blossoming of proto-metal was not from an English speaking nation at all but rather from the small nation of Iceland which found a power trio generating an excessively heavy sound for the year of 1973.

ICECROSS has been referred to as the first black metal band due to the album cover depicting a human skeleton, a monstrous counterpart along with a frosted over cross which represents some sort of anti-religious stance but despite the imagery forged in black and white evoking a future world that would adopt similar artistic expressions as a means of communicating more extreme misanthropic visions, ICECROSS’ sound was more akin to the early years of the NWOBHM which at 1973 was ahead of its time sounding as if the band’s sole self-titled album was recorded and released somewhere around the 1978-79 timeline. While borrowing from the early heavy psych of the 60s along with the heavier aspects of Leaf Hound, Sabbath, Pentagram and Uriah Heep, ICECROSS surprisingly developed an interesting early porto-type of metal outside the English speaking world.

The band consisted of the trio of Axel Einarsson (Guitar, Vocals), Ómar Óskarsson (Bass, Vocals) and Ásgeir Óskarsson (Drums, Vocals) and was something akin to an early Icelandic Rush without the Led Zeppelin influences. ICECROSS’s sole album is an amazingly confident ride through sizzling guitar riff passages, heavy percussive freneticism and distinct bass grooves that hinted at the influences from across the pond but offered a darker sound that took the gloomier moods of Sabbaths, a tad of King Crimsonian dystopia and melded it with the blues rock and heavier drives of bands like Elias Hulk, Iron Claw, Jerusalem. Dust and dozens of other early heavy rockers only ICECROSS increased the speed and volume creating a powerful display of early metal bombast.

Although hailing from Iceland, ICECROSS wisely selected English as the language for the lyrics and chose to craft all original tunes with no covers like many bands of the era outside of England were doing. The band was popular in Iceland but with a population of only a few hundred thousand found more success once they moved abroad to Copenhagen, Denmark where they recorded the sole album. Due to the band’s short existence the original album had become a desired collector’s item for decades before a long due remastered reissue emerged in the 21st century as interest in the early 70s material has risen. ICECROSS cranked out eight strong tracks that ranged from heavy metal rockers that incorporate blitzkrieg lightning fast guitar solos which wouldn’t become popular until the latter half of the decade. The band also crafted catchy bluesy rockers as well as darker doom laden passages that emphasized darker intent.

Everything is great about ICECROSS’ sole release. Heavy passages change it up with mellow more contemplative sections. Einarsson’s vocals are powerful and attack a wide octave range whereas the musicianship of the members is extraordinarily brilliant especially on the drums where Ásgeir Óskarsson delivered a more sophisticated style of playing not experienced in the heavy rock world at this stage. In many ways this band could be deemed a predecessor of the 80s scene except that probably nobody ever heard of them outside of Iceland and the Danish capital. While the heavy metal world may have caught up with ICECROSS without hearing their early powerful style of playing, this album has become a cult favorite for many seeking the origins of the metal universe and is not to be missed. While not exactly some long lost masterpiece, the album is surprisingly strong in its heavy metal stomp through an album’s worth of material. This is one band i wish would have stuck around longer.

ICECROSS Icecross

Album · 1973 · Heavy Psych
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
voila_la_scorie
Icecross

Icecross was a band from Iceland that formed in 1972 and took the bold step of deciding to play their own music instead of doing covers of contemporary hits as was more common. They found some success at home and then moved abroad to Copenhagen, Denmark to pursue a larger audience. During their time there, they recorded one album which was met favourably by many. But for various reasons the band decided to call it quits. There album slipped away into a moratorium of obscurity for a couple of decades but then began garnering the interest of record collectors. There were a few bootleg copies issued (check iTunes for the album with the red and black cover) but finally Vintage Records reissued it properly (white and black cover) with a booklet that explains the brief history of the band.

I discovered Icecross on a proto-metal playlist on YouTube and downloaded two of their songs from iTunes. Liking them enough and finding out that the CD would be available in early 2014, I pre-ordered it from Amazon and got it last week.

There are 8 songs on the album and if you are a fan of early seventies proto-doom metal I think this album may very well appeal to you. However, the first song is nothing more than early seventies 12-bar blues rock and roll and really seems uncharacteristic of this band. It’s good enough for what it is but I feel Status Quo or Nazareth might have recorded a similar song. Be warned but also know that it gets more interesting after this.

The second track, “Solution” is where we get our first real taste of Icecross’ brand of rock. Moderate guitar distortion, a drummer that cannot keep still and treats almost each song as a drum solo, lots of post-psych, wah-wah guitar solos, it seems it’s up to the bass player to hold the songs together. The vocals are intriguing and I often find myself thinking of Johnny Rotten singing some kind of spooky horror heavy rock song. The background vocals contribute to this with a ghoulish choir of “aaahh” vocalizations. Except for the long guitar solo, this could be a good background song for a Halloween party!

“A Sad Man’s Story” is sad indeed because it sounds like an attempt to do a Kinks-style ballad, circa 1969. At first I accepted it as nothing more than the obligatory third-track ballad. But it’s not too bad and includes some piano as well. Next.

Tracks 4 to 7 stick to the style established in track 2, yet despite the similarity in sound there is a notable amount of variation. “Jesus Freaks” should have the approval of many modern Scandinavian bands with the lyrics, “I met some freaks of Jesus at the end of last July. Some disgusting people!”

My favourite track is “1999” which has me a bit confused about the lyrics, talking about your body in 1999 (“Take your wig of off your head / Take you teeth out of your mouth / Throw your hearing aide away”) and then goes on to sing about making love to “you” when “you were 17”. The guitar riff is what catches my ear here and if you think you want check out this band I suggest giving this tune a spin first. Of course you can find Icecross on YouTube and it seems that reviews on some other sites give this a favourable rating.

For heavy riffs, “Nightmare” is also pretty cool and I rather like the weird “Iron Man” voice distortion in one part.

The final track is actually another 12-bar blues based song but this one is darker and sings about the human race ending after WWIII. It’s likely the doomiest 12-bar blues track I’ve ever heard.

Among all the proto-metal bands from 1969-1973 that I have been picking up these days, I have to say that Icecross is one of the better ones in so far as pointing the way to the future of metal. At times they sound almost too silly in how serious they are about some of their lyrics and vocals but on the other hand they seem to know that they are being serious about something silly. I give them great credit for their decision to set out on their own ground and write songs as they liked.

Though I've given three stars for this site as a metal site, I would give them four in the category of proto-metal only.

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