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Destined for these lands - 88%

Neheroth, January 10th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, 12" vinyl, Dying Victims Productions

Ice War is a Canadian, one man band outfit, born from the ashes of Iron Dogs and headed by Jo Capitalicide. Ice War began in full back in 2015, releasing a slew of amazing singles followed by an equally amazing EP and album in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Their debut album was impressive in its own right, an early 80's sounding traditional metal sound, with one foot in the latter half of the 70's hard rock sound. I was surprised to see Ice War back with more material only a year later, wondering at how Capitalicide would be able to top his last effort and somehow, he has.

This album is chocked full of riffs galore. Swaggering, Celtic tinged melodies channel through the album, harking back to the great Thin Lizzy and reminiscent of the more recent Slough Feg. In fact, I would go so far as to say Ice War is a rawer, punkier version of Slough Feg, sharing the same folky guitar melodies and tribal lyrical concepts. The thematic side of Ice War is wonderful; his tales of native genocide, tribal destiny, and lost traditions painting a vivid picture in the mind. The album cover only seeks to enforce these visions, with it's tribal, skeletal warriors overlooking vast mountains fo ice, upon clueless colonizers who look as though they are in for a rude awakening at the hands of vengeful native spirits. Jocelyn Galipeau, Capitalicide's father, did a wonderful job on the artwork as he did with the first and I hope he will continue doing so for Ice War in the future.

Needless to say, lyrically Ice War is on point and whilst Capitalicide's vocal style isn't technically the greatest against the swathe of new traditional metal acts, being rather stark in nature, he makes up for it with such determined vigor and honesty that I'd rather listen to his monotone serenades, than the host of samey singers that you find in most of his contemporaries. It also helps that the lyrics he pens are so damn memorable, again simple in nature, yet this only works in his favor as the lines stick in your head like permafrost.

"I cannot dominate, the labyrinth's maze, cannot control my fate, the labyrinth's shake, I am lost in a maze. Lost in a maze, labyrinth for days!"

I've found myself singing that chorus, from "The Labyrinth", over and over, practically annoying myself with my own repetitions of it and that same addictive songwriting infects every single number on the album, making it impossible to put down. "No Way of Turning Back", "Ride Alone" and "Light Shine On" have choruses to die for too and definitely stand out on the album, as well as track mentioned prior. Only one song breaks the four-minute mark on the album, which is perfect for this kind of release with no single track every outstaying its welcome. With that being said, anyone looking for more epic style tracks, in the vein of Visigoth or Gatekeeper, look elsewhere.

Ice War is all about punchy, immediate blazers, incredibly memorable tunes that rely on simple, honest and straightforward composition. Capitalicide has successfully found himself a respectable niche in the current traditional metal scene, creating a noteworthy sound that sticks out amongst the crowd and leaves many reeling in his wake. A champion of the old school lost in a maze of ancestral riffs and haunting choruses, if you can grab this album, do it, you will not regret it.