Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ice Dragon - 'Dream Dragon'

After an initial spin of Ice Dragon’s fifth full-length, ‘Dream Dragon’, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that the band has upped their daily allowance of hallucinogenics, flipped their collective lids, blacked out the windows of Ron’s Wrecker Service with tin foil, and recorded their latest moody, blissed-out opus with ‘Easy Rider’ playing in the background on a continuous loop. While ‘Dream Dragon’ is a departure for the prolific psychedelic doom outfit it isn’t a complete one-eighty, but rather a shift in focus. All of the elements of earlier releases are still present; it’s just that the prescribed dosages have been changed. Acoustic passages, ambient noisescapes, 60’s inspired jangle-pop, and straight-up rock ‘n’ roll are effortlessly interwoven to create one hell of an enjoyable album.

The aptly titled “Dreamliner” opens the album and is the soundtrack for floating down the river of a gentle mountain stream in an inner tube on a lazy afternoon. It’s a delicate, beautiful, sway-inducing tune that really sets the tone for the rest of the album. The second track, “Maximum Trip”, increases the grit, revs the engine, and blasts off into road-trip territory. This is the track you want to be listening to while kicking up dust in a fear and loathing inspired cross-country, flesh suitcase drug delivery. “Stumble Onto Magic” is another album stand-out that shifts between psychedelic melancholia and up-tempo burner.  “I Know You’re in Here” is an atmospheric/noise freak-out straight from Pink Floyd’s ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’ playbook. “Beard of Thieves” most closely resembles the Ice Dragon of yore and could have fit comfortably among the tunes on ‘The Sorrowful Sun’. “For Once in My Life” begins with one of the most emotional guitar leads that Ice Dragon has laid to tape accompanied by a vocal delivery suggestive of a man baring his soul. 

The remainder of the album is a meandering journey where every corner turned reveals new surprises. While this release may showcase a softer side of Ice Dragon, it illustrates that the band refuses to be constrained by any one particular style or genre. The recent release of the band’s self-titled album is good preparation for what is to be discovered on ‘Dream Dragon’. The real beauty here is that the band continues to experiment and is able to effectively push boundaries and experiment while maintaining a consistent overall sound. Sure, the band could have chosen a new moniker to release their latest release as they have done with the darker, doomier Tentacle, but ‘Dream Dragon’ still fits comfortably within the pantheon of Ice Dragon releases.

‘Dream Dragon’ is the sound of a band indulging their creativity and their influences while having a blast in the process. This is a significant progression for Ice Dragon in terms of songwriting, playing, and Ron’s vocals show their greatest range. Hopefully Ice Dragon will continue to grow and release material that challenges their listeners. While this lighter side is a fantastic change of pace, hopefully they won’t completely abandon their doom roots on future releases…9/10

Words: Steve Miller
(Originally published at Doommantia)

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