Draw Down the Moon

Icarus Witch

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Draw Down the Moon Review

by Eduardo Rivadavia

It's a perfect summation of Icarus Witch's inconspicuous career arc that, by the release of the Pittsburgh natives' third album, Draw Down the Moon, in early 2010, they'd been singled out among the leaders of the New Wave of Traditional Metal (N.W.O.T.M., for short), despite remaining a largely unknown quantity to mainstream music consumers. Wait a minute: leaders of the what…? Anyway, such is life in the heavy metal netherworld ("underground" bands account for 95-percent of the genre's yearly output), but that's not to say it's a bad life, or else Icarus Witch would be changing their ways instead of sticking steadfastly, and by all accounts happily, to their chosen rear view musical direction. That's why there's still a cottage-industry spirit pervading this album's intentionally flat production (which sounds anything but overpowering by contemporary metal standards) and occasionally clunky arrangements -- as though too much finesse and professionalism would rob Icarus Witch of their authentic aesthetic. This requires the by-now customary aural/temporal "adjustment" by 21st century denizens wishing to travel back in time with the band, so as to experience the Spartan metallic memories imparted by highlights such as "Aquarius Rising," "Dying Eyes," and "Funeral Wine," in the right frame of mind…that being 1981, 1982 at the latest. Unfortunately, as competent and nostalgically satisfying as these songs may be, none of them will be entering the heavy metal canon as all-time classics. In part because Icarus Witch aren't exactly reinventing the wheel here -- obviously -- but also because growing internal strife also affected their songwriting focus this time around, yielding numerous forgettable, energy-deprived offerings like "Reap What You Sow," "Serpent in the Garden," and "Haunting Visions." Not surprisingly, Draw Down the Moon would prove to be the final Icarus Witch album for founding vocalist Matthew Bizilia, whose peculiar voice (reminiscent at times of Cirith Ungol's Tim Barker, but cleaner) was always something of an acquired taste to begin with. Now it remains to be seen whether the band's lone remaining founding member, bassist Jason Myers, can hold Icarus Witch together long enough to rebound with their next effort.

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