Ice Age

Liberation

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    8
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The follow-up to Ice Age's critically acclaimed debut, The Great Divide, Liberation builds on the same firm grounds, taking the progressive metal outfit a bit closer to progressive than metal. Actually, it would be better to call it "power prog" since, besides Jimmy Pappas' inventive metal-esque playing, the music on this CD shares affinities with Kansas, Styx, Rush, Queensryche, and other arena rock bands. Josh Pincus' busy keyboard work propels the band into seven songs and five instrumental tracks. The best moments include "A Thousand Years," "The Guardian of Forever," the fast-paced symphonic prog instrumental "Musical Cages," and the opener "The Lhasa Road (No Surrender)" where singer Pincus sounds very close to both Journey's Steve Perry and Styx's Dennis DeYoung. There is of course a lot of pyrotechnics, genre obliges, and even some metal clichés but the aforementioned tracks aim at developing moods, progressing structures, and put a lot of emphasis on the powerful vocals. The writing has matured noticeably. Sadly, the obligatory metal-gone-soft ballad "When You're Ready," definitely overlong at nine minutes, adds nothing to this otherwise very fine album. Recommended to fans of both progressive metal and 1970s arena rock.

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