There are many artists and bands that I have followed throughout the years, through good times and bad, always hoping that their next release will meet mine and many other fan’s expectations. It can be very disappointing when a band begins to recycle the same material over and over, failing to progress their music into something new and fresh. It can also be disappointing when an artist does a complete 180-degree, becoming something else entirely and losing the essence of what made them so compelling and appealing in the first place. I think many artists walk a fine line between these two roads of innovation or stagnation, and good artists know how to manoeuvre themselves through this, evolving from one record to the next, without alienating the fanbase that loved their music to begin with.
RELEASE DATE: 21 April 2017 LABEL: Czar Of Crickets Productions
When Icarus Falls is one such band, having slowly evolved their sound over the past decade from ferocious young band bursting with energy, to a mature one able to command the light and dark elements of their music with the deftest of touches. I was a huge fan of Aegean back when it dropped in 2012 and thought it was highly underrated at the time. So, what has the band been able to cook up with their latest release, Resilience? Have they decided to explore uncharted waters?
When Icarus Falls is Yann Cottier and Luis Cordeiro on guitar duties, Xavier Gigandet on drum and keyboard, Claude Humbert-Droz on bass, and Diego Mediano on vocals.
Resilience kicks off with the monstrous track “One Last Stand”, an epic piece clocking in at almost 11 minutes. An exotic-sounding Middle-Eastern minor melody plays throughout the entirety of the track, hypnotising the listener into another world. Spoken vocals are used, almost sermon-like in its usage throughout, and keys are peppered in further adding to the allure and mystery of the song. “One Last Stand” is a fantastic song and one of the strongest on the record. It is also a pretty ballsy move to say the least, starting off with such a dense song right off the bat, but When Icarus Falls pulls it off flawlessly.
“Into The Storm” continues the band’s usage of post-rock sensibilities and drone to create another dreamy, yet menacing soundscape. Vocals are sparse once again which becomes a common occurrence throughout the album, with the band rather focusing on creating a moody soundscape first and foremost, and then punching through with bouts of heaviness and ferocity when required. Resilience meanders through into “The Lighthouse”, a post-metal beauty and an ode to the greats of the genre such as Isis and Cult Of Luna. The instrumentation is slow and methodical in its approach, yet crushing and full of purpose. “Resilience” begins with tons of delay-socked tremolo picking, almost reminiscent of Tool’s Lateralus, and moves into a wonderfully uplifting journey of bright melodies, cool synths and laid back drumming. The guitar melodies played throughout are great examples of some excellent progressive writing, ebbing and flowing as the song’s story unfolds.
In “A Blue Light” we are introduced to a more cinematic and reserved When Icarus Falls, slowly building layers of tension and ambience in equal measures with delay-infused guitar melodies, military-like drumming and thick bass driving things along. This ending of Resilience is epic in its scope and ambition, clocking in at nearly 12 minutes long! Vocals are sparse and when used are almost spoken, with Mediano delivering his characteristic vicious vocal work towards the end of the song, with tons of riffage and crashing drums abound adding to a great finisher to the album. What maybe detracts a bit from the near flawlessness of the track is the sparse use of Mediano’s powerful vocals.
When Icarus Falls have created a very interesting record, that has great strengths, but one noticeable weakness. The instrumental aspects of the songs are excellent. The guitar work is top-notch, utilising great progressive passages of writing that tell a compelling story whilst the drumming and bass really hit hard and add further substance to the story being told on Resilience. I must commend the expansion of the band’s sound, adding new layers not heard previously or only teased on previous records, with the band really concentrating on building a massive soundscape first and foremost. No doubt, songs such as “One Last Stand” and “Resilience” will be great hits during their live shows. What is disappointing is the lack of substantial vocal work on Resilience. Mediano has a truly devastating roar and I feel it was greatly underutilised on this record. Perhaps the band is beginning to trend towards being more of an instrumental ensemble. Nonetheless, Resilience is still an excellent atmospheric metal release and one that bodes well for When Icarus Falls’ future.