Icarus Witch

Songs for the Lost

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Even for a period in time when vintage/classic heavy metal is enjoying an evident worldwide renaissance, Pittsburgh's Icarus Witch delivered an emphatic vow of loyalty to "'the faith" with their retro-tastic first album, Capture the Magic; and there's thankfully no sign that they want to come back to the future anywhere on album number two, 2007's Songs for the Lost. Heck, even though it's positively drenched in Iron Maiden-isms (galloping bass, twin guitar lines, and singer Matthew Bizilia's obvious debt to Bruce Dickinson), "Out for Blood" is a dynamite opener that gives immediate notice of the group's successful escape from the feared sophomore slump -- a fact later confirmed by additional strong efforts like "Nature of the Beast," "Queen of Lies," and the improbable metal-prog-AOR hybrid "Afterlife." Well-placed synthesizers add welcome depth and texture to the rousing, classy "The Sky Is Falling" (one of several, slow-paced, but surprisingly effective numbers benefiting from stellar solos by new guitarist Quinn Lukas), and the string-laden conclusion of "Smoke and Mirrors" simply has to be one of the best trad metal ballads yet to emerge from the new millennium. Admittedly, as with Icarus Witch's debut, certain songs still come off a little too underproduced ("House of Usher" doesn't quite measure up, musically, to its literary source) and even clunky (see the sketchily worded "Written in the Stars" and the "Wasted Years"-like "Devil's Hour"); but one can't help but chalk this to the band's intentional bid for '80s-flavored authenticity, given the similar aesthetic presented by the excellent surrounding material. And, in keeping with their brilliant choice of cover song for album number one -- a perfectly suited but less-than-obvious take on Ozzy Osbourne's "S.A.T.O." -- Icarus Witch wisely tackle Def Leppard's High 'N' Dry classic, "Mirror Mirror," on Songs for the Lost with the aid of Rainbow legend Joe Lynn Turner -- very nice! Ultimately, "very nice" is an apt summation of Songs for the Lost, which definitely betters its predecessor while paving the way for even bigger expectations from Icarus Witch in the future.

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