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ICS Vortex - Storm Seeker Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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ICS Vortex - Storm Seeker

ICS Vortex - Storm Seeker

Century Media Records
Storm Seeker is the debut solo offering from ICS Vortex. Two years on from his acrimonious split with Dimmu Borgir, the giant vocalist/bassist has been far from idle, keeping occupied with his other well-respected projects in the form of Borknagar and Arcturus, but this is his first chance to stamp a truly individual authority on an album.

Initially, the results are slightly disappointing, and for anyone wanting an album in keeping with the overblown black metal of Dimmu, that initial disappointment may last some considerable time. Aside from a couple of suitably ice-cold riffs on the opening two tracks “The Blackmobile” and “Odin’s Tree,” there is little here to excite fans of black metal.

Instead, Mr Vortex has chosen to use these eleven tracks to explore a range of musical styles including classic prog, psychedelia and traditional rock. Yes, it’s heavy of course, but in a massively different way to the majority of current metal bands, with double-kicking blast beats and shredding solos noticeable only by their absence.

It’s that difference – that other-worldliness if you will – that prompts the initial disappointment mentioned earlier. The lack of instant hooks and full-blown metal melodrama prevents the album making a strong first impression, but Storm Seeker is worth persevering with, and given time, it reveals many appealing facets.

The organ and heavily-phased bass of “Skoal” prompts comparisons to the mighty classic rock of Deep Purple and the uber-doom of Black Sabbath, while “Windward” glides along on an almost poppy hook that takes a while to sink in but is ultimately addictive.

As the album develops, both “Oil In Wate” and the title track delve into prog rock territory and have echoes of Yes, Pink Floyd and early Rush – albeit with a generous helping of provocative Scandinavian metal pinning the songs very much in the here and now, while all too brief “Flaskeskipper” tempts with its sinister gothic atmosphere.

Unsurprisingly, the characteristically clean vocals from ICS are every bit as outstanding as expected, given the distinctive edge he provided Dimmu during his tenure in the band. As successful as their last album may have been, there’s a nagging feeling they’ve perhaps lost a vital creative spark with his departure.

If you are prepared to live with Storm Seeker for a while before making judgement, it has the potential to sneak up on you and slowly win you over. Just use a little patience.

(released August 23, 2011 on Century Media Records)

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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