Friday, September 28, 2012

Ice Dragon – ‘greyblackfalconhawk’

Ice Dragon is here to ruin your day. The Boston, Massachusetts trio has spawned no less than three full-length albums—four if you include the release of their previously recorded self-titled debut—and a couple of split 7”s within the short span of seven months. Beginning with the self-titled debut and continuing with both ‘Dream Dragon’ and ‘greyblackfalconhawk’, Ice Dragon has evolved from their psych-heavy doom sound into a band willing to indulge their whims without sacrificing their identity or overall essence. There is no mistaking an Ice Dragon release for anything other than an Ice Dragon release.

Referring to the band’s albums by year is almost an exercise in futility at this point. So, if July’s ‘Dream Dragon’ was the feel good, blissed-out summer album of the year, then September’s ‘greyblackfalconhawk’ is the grim, rainy-day flipside to that coin. Long gone are the Summer of Love influences that graced tunes like “Dreamliner” or “Stumble Onto Magic” and absent is the baroque-pop homage of “Every Little Star” and “A Dragon’s Dream, Part I” in favor of a darker hypnotic approach that is wrought with an air of discontented introspection.

‘greyblackfalconhawk’ isn’t the band’s most immediate or accessible release, but it is probably their most singular and consistent full-length in regards to overall atmosphere. This is meditative doom for the downtrodden, a sentiment best exemplified by the album’s second track “takeitallaway”, a claustrophobic anthem of suffering and release. Down-tuned, electric bass drone, occasional acoustic guitar strums, and wailing vocals march this melancholy dirge toward its conclusion. The second half of the track is accented by a shift in drumming dynamics and the chorus lamentation of “takeitallaway”. The end result is a trance-inducing tune of subtle dynamics.

Even though the album induces an overall mood of paranoia and desperation through its combination of ambient textures, droning guitars, and discordant tones, there are still moments of poignant tenderness. “everythingisawaste”, one of the shortest tracks on the album, stands out as a sliver of light amidst the shadows for its delicate, heartrending instrumentation and vocal delivery. Despite its subdued simplicity “everythingisawaste” stands as one of Ice Dragon’s most memorable tunes and shines as an album highlight.

While the band has slightly strayed from the sound of their first three proper releases, they have not completely abandoned the world of doom, but rather have found new ways to channel and express their shadowy arts. ‘greyblackfalconhawk’ may take some time to fully appreciate, but the elements that make every other Ice Dragon release so memorable are still present, it’s just that these alchemists have adjusted the potency and balance of their ingredients. The album is currently available for purchase on the band’s Bandcamp page. Do yourself a favor: download a copy and listen to it while dwelling on missed opportunities and the wrongs that you have committed…

Words: Steve Miller
(Originally published at Doommantia)


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