ICECROSS — Icecross (review)

ICECROSS — Icecross album cover Album · 1973 · Heavy Psych Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
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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siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I just heard this album not too long ago after i read that someone deemed it one of the first black metal albums. Can't say i agree but it was a good listen. Great review :)

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