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Draw Down the Moon, Icarus Witch's 2010 offering, is the band's third full-length album. The band's debut EP - Roses On White Lace - began to cause a stir in the underground. After the somewhat disappointing debut album Capture the Magic, fans waited for Songs For the Lost to get back on the track Roses laid down. Songs delivered quite well, and left fans with high expectation for The Witch's next release. And with that next release being Draw Down the Moon, many of their expectations were met, and then some.
The album has a darker musical and lyrical theme than the band's previous albums, with some mystical but powerful riffs and lyrics rooted in Paganistic themes. The album's opening track, Black Candles, is among one of the band's strongest songs. Aquarius Rising, the next song, is nothing special, really. Reap What You Sow follows with an aggressive, almost doom metal feel to it. Dying Eyes begins as one of the album's slower songs, but picks up the dark aggressive theme of the album a minute or two in, as the other slower-type song, Funeral Wine, does. The song Draw Down the Moon sounds like it could be a super villian's theme song, with sinister but powerful riffs driving through the song. Serpent in the Garden and Haunting Visions follow the theme of Aquarius Rising and Dying Eyes - forgettable, but complementary to the album.
Any fan of The Witch knows that every one of their full-lengths features a cover spng - Capture the Magic having S.A.T.O. (Ozzy Osbourne), and Songs For the Lost having Mirror Mirror (Def Leoppard). This album is no exception, with a pretty good cover of the Judas Priest's The Ripper. Vocalist Matthew Bizilia's voice complements the song nicely. The rest of the band don't do too bad on this track either, giving the song the dark feel the rest of the album possesses.
In conclusion, Draw Down the Moon is good, but it's not the band's masterpiece. The dark theme of the songs fit right into the tradition of The Witch, and The Ripper feels right at home among the rest of the album. There are some cool riffs and solos on every track the album has to offer. On the downside, however, some of the songs like Haunting Visions and Funeral Wine just aren't very memorable, and the album clocks in at just over a half an hour. And so, Draw Down the Moon follows in the tradition of Songs For the Lost - leaving the band to build on what they've done here, as they have with the album's predecessor.
While Icarus Witch's influences and sound have always been rooted in the styles of the 70's and 80's, they've always had albums that often played off of one another while still retaining unique identities. Their most recent effort isn't an exception and may be their darkest album to date.
Just as "Capture the Magic" seemed to expand on the sounds of "Roses on White Lace," this album serves as a companion of sorts to "Songs for the Lost." The Renaissance/Baroque aesthetics of the last album are still present and the band still goes by a sound that teeters between hard rock and heavy metal. However, there are some stylistic changes present with the atmosphere becoming darker than before and a few songs come close to reaching that aggressive edge that has eluded the band since the heavier moments of their debut.
The band manages to put on a competent performance in spite of the changes and seems to go along with them nicely. The bass guitar is definitely the most prominent instrument on the album and is frequently showcased on tracks such as the slithery "Serpent in the Garden." The guitars and vocals are also enjoyably executed though the vocal distortion on "Aquarius Rising" is slightly annoying. Other than that, the vocals are more or less the same as they've always been...
Reflecting the change of direction, most of the songs on here seem to be go between a faster, driving style ("Black Candles," "Aquarius Rising," "Haunting Visions") and more complex territory ("Dying Eyes," "Draw Down the Moon," "Funeral Wine") with a few signature mid-tempo tunes in between ("Reap What You Sow," "Serpent in the Garden"). Personally, the mid-tempo tracks are my personal favorites but I do appreciate the experimentation that occurs on "Dying Eyes" and "Haunting Visions." "Black Candles" also makes for a strong opener and is nicely performed in the vein of "Out for Blood" and "Storming the Castle."
The lyrics are also pretty intriguing and may be the band's most supernatural oriented since "Capture the Magic" though the subject matter isn't quite as broad. Instead most of the lyrics seem to be based around pagan/religious themes with some general mysticism here and there.
Another interesting track worth noting is the standard cover song that appears on every Icarus Witch album; this album featuring a cover of "The Ripper" by Judas Priest. It isn't as strong as some of the other covers that the band has performed and may be my least favorite that has appeared on a studio album, but it does the original justice and fits in with the rest of the album's songs.
All in all, this isn't quite as strong as "Songs For the Lost" but it makes for some solid listening. Definitely worth checking out for fans of the band and those who are interested in dark hard rock.
1) Nice change in direction
2) Good atmosphere
3) Stand out bass/guitar performances
1) Still not quite aggressive enough
2) The cover isn't as strong as usual
3) A few moments of weaker sounding vocals
My Current Favorites:
"Black Candles," "Reap What You Sow," "Dying Eyes," "Serpent in the Garden," and "Haunting Visions"