Ice Age - Liberation
Artist: Ice Age (www.ice-age.com)
Label: Magna Carta (www.magnacarta.net)
Genre: Progressive Rock
liberation - with a small l - is the newest thing from progressive metal loudsters Ice Age. The cd cover shows an anxious looking little monkey staring out from behind bars; while inside there are glorified pictures of what this civilization will probably look like once the new ice age sets in.
Imagine Kansas as they are now - or from the classic years with a metal edge - with the Styx lead vocalist on board, and with keyboard-induced sound pictures rolling fore and aft for over an hour, and that is the chill that is Ice Age. There's no weak link. Jimmy Pappas is perfect in everything from heavy to soft acoustic guitars. Josh Pincus is the voice and synth, often rolling Wakeman-great landscapes of pure sound. Hal Aponte unerringly kicks drums, and Arron DiCesare powerhouses bass.
One of the best - and most Styx-like - is the ballad 'When You're Ready', which, as most progressive rock shows, does not keep one voice throughout. The sandwich meat in between is as wild and tightly packed as the guitar rock ornamentation of 'Musical Cages' and the lead-in epic, 'The Lhasa Road (No Surrender)'. The screaming harmonies urge the music on, as do metal-minded tracks like 'The Wolf' which shake and croon with tenor emotion to the high winds. The guitars shudder from the cold but never tire of tiring you out.
Round about 'To Say Goodbye, Part III: Still Here' the Yes influence shows its head, but closer to Rabin than Howe, though much more jazz oriented in melody than Rabin's pop-rock. The planning that goes into long songs like Goodbye show the superiority of progressive rock. Yeah, I'm bias, but only in the way that you can't get around the perfection of Toni Braxton's body. There are just certain archetypes that ring true. If there is a formula to prog, it hasn't been found out by the 4 men that are Ice Age. They wind and weave their songwriting like improv witches, looking for the best craft.
It's no wonder this band is prog for the new century. Keeping close to the elements the originals started in the late 60s (unless you count jazz, and really, you Have to), Ice Age loudly proclaims itself as masters of a form undefined. Trying out new conceptions. Arguing to the gods of fate, daring to suggest better ways, and never stepping back from the thunder. They are simply one of the best of the genre today.