Nov 20, 2012

Ice Dragon – “Season of Decay” b/w “The Humble Titan” ...

Boston’s genre-hopping hierophants, Ice Dragon, seemingly no longer content to merely blow minds with their brand of arcane doom have continued down a myriad of musical paths that have found the trio indulging their whims and dodging expectations with pleasantly surprising results. 2012 has been a particular fruitful year for the band and when one surmises that the well may have run dry, Ice Dragon unleashes “Season of Decay” backed with “The Humble Titan”. Their latest single— rather than following a clear trajectory from previous recordings—comes across as a complete outlier that exists within a vacuum. While “Season of Decay” and “The Humble Titan” are not the successors to the despondent, droned-out meditations of the excellent ‘greyblackfalconhawk’, the tunes do convey an atmosphere of melancholia and doom.

One of the most impressive aspects of “Season of Decay” is simply the growth and maturation of the band’s songwriting and their ability, as a collective, to continually churn out high-quality tunes at such a quick pace while not falling into the pitfalls of convention. “Season of Decay” displays the band’s uncanny ability to branch-out and include a variety of sounds while still maintaining an overall aesthetic. At its heart, the opening track is a laid–back acoustic tune, but the inclusion of country-inflected lead guitar and Ron’s high-pitched croon really elevates the song to a whole other level. Despite the languid, relaxed feel of “Season of Decay”, the opening lines effectively betray that sense of calm by staying true to much of the band’s previous lyrical explorations, “They made us weak/They made us wait/For our bones/To push through the gray/Earthen tomb/In which we lay”.

In contrast to the easy-going, country-vibe of “Season of Decay”, “The Humble Titan” delves deeper into trance-like psychedelia and ultimately climaxes in an oscillating, krautrock fueled freak-out.  Dreamy vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboard, and a staggered drumbeat effectively coalesce into a mesmerizing dissonance that ultimately turns itself inside-out leaving the listener seemingly stranded in the middle-of-nowhere. “The Humble Titan” is reminiscent of some of the darker psychedelic explorations found on ‘Tome of the Future Ancients’, but rather than trying to crush the listener with heavy doom, Ice Dragon adopts an earthy, acoustic approach that is just as effective.

While Ice Dragon may have potentially alienated a few listeners over the span of their last few releases, the band’s chameleon-like ability to channel a variety of sounds and make them their own cannot be denied. Very few bands in recent memory are able to so drastically change-up their sound and approach while maintaining the quality (and quantity) that Ice Dragon is able to achieve. Both “Season of Decay” and “The Humble Titan” are welcome and strong additions to the band’s catalogue, but it poses an important question: How many more releases can Ice Dragon fit in before the New Year?

Words: Steve Miller

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