Ice War – Defender, Destroyer

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Reviewed: July, 2020
Released: 2020, Fighter Records
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Jack Merry

ICE WAR is a speed metal project formed solely by Jo Capitalicide shortly after his previous group IRON DOGS disbanded in 2015. Since then, he’s been releasing demos, EP’s and albums at a relentless pace! Now, ICE WAR has signed with Fighter Records for the release of its 4th album Defender, Destroyer.

Before even giving the album a spin, the incredible cover art of this record was created by the famous fantasy painter Didier Normand and lets us know exactly what we’re in for: a high-speed thrill ride through barren lands of ice and snow set in a fantasy world.

Sonically, Defender, Destroyer is a blast; wearing it’s influences on its armored sleeves. Throw some MÖTORHEAD and IRON MAIDEN into a melting pot with lashings of hardcore punk, new wave thrash, the Lord of the Rings and 80’s METALLICA and you’ll have a solid idea of what ICE WAR is. The most impressive factor of this record is that Jo Capitalicide performed each and every instrument himself, along with providing all vocals. It’s enough to be talented enough to sing and play one instrument, let alone an entire band’s worth, but Capitalicide manages to prove his salt in every aspect of this album.

However, this talent doesn’t mean a great deal if the music itself isn’t up to par. So, is it? Well, yes and no. The good news is that Defender, Destroyer is a pretty solid speed metal record, with buckets of blast beats, razor sharp riffing and almost growled vocals about frost giants, skulls, demons, magic and crucifixions on every track. The lead guitar work erupts at every opportunity, especially on ‘Demonoid,’ the bass borrows heavily from Steve Harris with its rumbling gallop launching the songs into oblivion and the vocals range from low growls to high pitch shrieks at the drop of a hat.

‘Soldiers of Frost’ kicks into gear with a chugging riff before disappearing for a few seconds; letting the bass pierce through the mix and lead the charge as the vocals tell the tale of battles long forgotten in the ice and snow. It’s an impressive display of speed metal, but it’s not entirely memorable; and therein lies my issue with the record: it’s largely forgettable outside of a couple of really killer riffs in certain tracks, such as ‘Mountains of Skulls’ and ‘Crucified in Fire.’ At times, it’s hard to make out what Capitalicide is actually singing during the verses, and ‘gang’ vocals during the choruses are all over the record.

The production is really great, especially for a speed metal one-man show. The guitars, drums and bass all crush accordingly on tracks such as ‘Running Out Of Time’ and ‘Breakaway.’ If speed metal is your thing, you’ll find something here to love. I’ve been pretty down on it, but don’t let that fool you: I think Defender, Destroyer is a really solid and uber-frenetic blast of heavy speed and one that any metal-head will want to listen to. I’m just not convinced there’s a lot here to warrant repeated listening.

If you’re interested in all-things speed metal, or fantasy metal, give ICE WAR and Defender, Destroyer a spin. The tracks hurtle along at a breakneck pace and before you realise one has finished, the next has already begun. It’s a relentless record and doesn’t pause for breath during its entire runtime, but perhaps this is to the album’s detriment, as not a lot is particularly memorable. It’s a shame, because this album could’ve been really special.


Videos:


Tracklisting:

1. Power From Within
2. Defender, Destroyer
3. Soldiers of Frost
4. Rising From the Tomb
5. Mountains of Skulls
6. Crucified in Fire
7. Demonoid
8. Skull and Crossbones
9. Running Out of Time
10. Breakaway

Lineup:

Jo Capitalicide – All instruments and vocals

Websites:

www.fighter-records.com/
icewar.bandcamp.com/
www.facebook.com/icewarmetal