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Regardless of the fact that I.C.E. may or may not be an Immortal rip-off or a complete joke, the power of this album can't be denied. Containing a sound more similar to the early Norwegian bands on amphetamines than the hordes of "kvlt" bedroom projects that have been emerging from the U.S. in recent years, "Apocalyptic End in White" is a collection of frost-bitten, speed-laden black metal that will make you say, "Brr..."
Before we discuss the music, I'd like to discuss everything about the artwork and layout. I.C.E. are definitely one of the more mysterious bands I've run across lately. Of course, all of the members use fairly typical pseudonyms, which tie in with the image, music, and lyrics: Blissered, Mammoth, Icesickkill, Bleak. Rumors have circulated that I.C.E. features members of Divine Rapture and Aurora Borealis, but nothing has been confirmed. The sense of mystery goes even further by the band's supposed "message" and their dress, which is simply white robes with plain white masks. "Apocalyptic End in White" also has some incredible artwork; the band's logo isn't overbearing and illegible, and the illustrations of blizzards devouring all life mark a wonderful coorelation with the cryptic lyrics that revolve around the coming of an entity named Raveskeith to dominate the world with endless, bitter winter.
As for the music, it is a true, worthy salute to the visions of merciless, cold, and grim black metal. The production brings out the best aspects of the music; it's clear without being "polished". Every song contains a certain wintry ambience created by the whirling maelstrom of blistering riffs, and the piercing vocals add a seeting, venomous edge to round out the sound. Guitars are fucking incredible. There's nothing fancy, but the power and conviction behind the compositions is incredible. "Cascade Cavern Catharsis" utilizes cold harmonies and grim-faced breakdowns, and the opening cuts will send a surge of adrenaline through your veins. There are also some more epic moments, such as "Glacial Lyckanthropic Horde" and "Behold thy Frozen Arctic Kingdom." Whatever it may be, the riffs on this album never fail.
The drumwork on this album is another high point. The sheer speed of the double bass makes one think that the drummer isn't even human. Blastbeats are the dominant thing here, but even these are kept fresh with the occasional splice in thrash beats or accents on the cymbals. There is no visible sign of tiring or being exhausted, either; it's totally relentless. I'll be the first to say that the drums were produced wonderfully; they use a full, clear sound that is neither sterile nor triggered... Thank God.
What makes "Apocalyptic End in White" so effective is the thick production. For a black metal album, the overall execution is flawless without sounding like it was "Pro-Tooled." The bass is audible at most points and does a sufficient job of making the album that much more ambient and atmospheric.
"Apocalyptic End in White" is sure to melt (or freeze) your face off. Totally merciless, cold, grim, and well-constructed black metal. Incredible production, flawless musicianship, great riffs, evil-as-fuck vocals/lyrics and speed-freak drumming. Prepare for an endless winter.
Favorites: "Astral Frost Invocation", "Hypothermic Possession", "Cascade Cavern Catharsis", "Behold thy Frozen Arctic Kingdom."