Icarus Witch - Capture the Magic
Magick
Classic 80s Metal
9 songs (40'15")
Release year: 2005
Magick/Cleopatra
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Aren’t you often annoyed when your parents or your older siblings/friends say something akin to: “XYZ has deteriorated in this day and age. Back when I was young …”? Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov even wrote a famous poem, Borodino, at the heart of which is the conversation between a rookie soldier and a seasoned veteran on the eve of a huge battle with Napoleon closing in on Moscow in year 1812. The veteran says: “Yes, there were people in my generation. Strongmen, giants, not you …”

Metal is no exception. Those of us who had a chance of witnessing the revolution in the late 70s – early 80s firsthand long for those days. And there was definitely magic in the air then. Americans Icarus Witch are trying to bring it back with their first full-length album titled, what else, Capture the Magic.

My only info thus far on Icarus Witch was a brief review of their Roses on White Lace EP in Metal Maniacs, but I did make a mental note to check them out. Whatever they were saying about Icarus Witch being the fresh breath of traditional 80s metal, it is all true.

Can you imagine a power metal album done nowadays without a single double bass stretch, without a “glorious” chorus with vocals laid over 1,000 times, without breaknecking speed and a full-time orchestra? It will be tough, as so many bands are looking a lot alike, but Icarus Witch employs none of the approaches above. Instead, we have some solid deliberate riffs engrained on our minds by Steve Pollick’s guitar and Jason Myers’ bass. Genuinely storytelling (title track) or stretchy and mysterious (Soothsayer) with Maiden-like bridges (Forevermore) and Maiden-like legends (The Ghost of Xavior Holmes is a story of ghost ship), this album just rolls along, most, if not all, of its tracks mid-pace. Such tempo allows for every bass pluck by Jason Myers to be heard and appreciated and John Passarelli makes every snare-tom beat count. The guitar solos aren’t numerous, but where they stand out they add a lot of flair (Soothsayer, The Ghost of Xavier Holmes). Staying true with the spirit of the 80s, album’s production is not superpolished featuring quite a bit of treble.

Matthew Bizilia on vocals completes the puzzle. The music that has so much room to breathe instrumentally needs great vocals to work, as they inevitably will be pushed to the forefront. Matthew in no way shies away from his leadership role, being probably the closest thing to Midnight (without the inimitable higher end of the register) I have heard in a while. The vocals on Capture the Magic are very powerful and legible, and they do not include stratospheric “soaring” which has become the faceless face of the modern power metal.

The mid-pace of the album gets slightly tedious towards the last couple of tracks, and if there is one, albeit small, drawback with this album it is the lack of a standout, trademark track. Capture the Magic comes close, and The Ghost of Xavior Holmes is a great song, but it is too epic to be taken all in one punch. The cover S.A.T.O. off Ozzy’s Diary of a Madman featuring George Lynch on guitars picks up the tempo, makes for a great album closer and rivals the original.

Capture the Magic forces me to reminisce about the first two albums by Crimson Glory with less of a progressive edge. The generation bred on the likes of Maiden, Dio and Queensryche should wholeheartedly embrace Icarus Witch. Judas Priest comeback is an event and it is good to see Bruce Dickinson make another album, but among less known bands I know that, alongside Slough Feg, their Atavism and Icarus Witch’s Capture the Magic were the only two traditional metal albums that had me truly excited in 2005 so far.

Killing Songs :
Storming the Castle, Capture the Magic, Soothsayer, Forevermore, The Chost of Xaviour Holmes, Darklands, S.A.T.O.
Alex quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Icarus Witch that we have reviewed:
Icarus Witch - Draw Down the Moon reviewed by Thomas and quoted 83 / 100
Icarus Witch - Songs For the Lost reviewed by Thomas and quoted 90 / 100
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