Icarus Witch – Draw Down The Moon (2010, Cleopatra Records)
- Black Candles
- Aquarius Rising
- Reap What You Sow
- Dying Eyes
- Draw Down The Moon
- Serpent In The Garden
- Funeral Wine
- Haunting Visions
- The Ripper
Matthew Bizilia – Vocals
Jason Myers – Bass
Quinn Lukas – Lead Guitars
Steve Johnson – Drums
Eric Klinger – Rhythm Guitars & session Drums
Jim Dofka – Guitars on Tracks 7 & 9
Keith Hurka – Drums on Track 9
Producers: Eric Klinger, Matthew Bizilia & Jason Myers
Total Time = 35:41
There has been a resurgence in the Traditional Metal scene in the last few years and Icarus Witch has been right in the thick of things along with bands like Slough Feg, White Wizzard and Wolf trying to revive the old school Metal approach. I’ve been a fan of the band since their 2005 ROSES ON WHITE LACE E.P. and the band hasn’t disappointed so far, I’m an old school metalhead and I like the Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Dio influences Icarus Witch makes no excuses emulating. DRAW DOWN THE MOON is the band’s third full-length record and it definitely has more of a darker feel to it, a more Black Sabbath influence, but the basics are there: vocals, guitars, bass and drums. Icarus Witch has been known just to be a straightforward Metal band and that’s exactly what they do, they give you the basics and run with it. This being their third album, I expected a little more of an expansion to their sound.
The album starts off with the very Maiden influenced ‘Black Candles’, one of the few faster songs on the album. The first thing you notice right away is (now former) vocalist Matt Bizilia’s unique vocals, he has this high pitch dramatic wail that can either be eerie and cool or very annoying depending on your tastes. There are definitely times on DRAW DOWN THE MOON where I think Bizilia is too dramatic but that’s the point of the band’s style. ‘Aquarius Rising’ continues the uptempo old school vibe reminding me a little of Saxon at times but with a darker edge. The song is pretty good but the drum sound is a little distracting and takes away from the song but you can definitely hear the band start to get a little darker with their delivery. The one thing that Icarus Witch does is fall into a mid-tempo pace on a lot of their songs and that gives them that darker, sludgier sound but also makes the songs drag out at times. The first of these kind of tracks is ‘Reap What You Sow’, it’s definitely darker, definitely more Sabbath influenced especially on the guitar but it sounds too dramatic at times with Bizilia’s high pitched vocals. ‘Dying Eyes’ follows a similar pattern although I don’t like the spoken word parts and that’s what kills the song for me. The title track is the third song in a row that is mid-paced, darker and utilizes Bizilia for dramatic effect…..are you starting to see a pattern? Let’s mix it up a bit guys!
The crown jewel of the album for me is ‘Serpent In The Garden’. It’s another slow, plodding Sabbath style song but there is more depth to it and the guitar work is excellent. ‘Serpent’ is the fourth song in a row using this mid-tempo style but it sounds a little more exotic and there are a few twists to the vocals that add a new wrinkle to the basic formula. It’s a very ’70s sounding track and I could easily hear a lot of Ronnie James Dio influence on this maybe in Rainbow or Black Sabbath. Listen for the bass in this song, it really stands out and adds a little extra. Another slow song follows with ‘Funeral Wine’, this is the fifth in a row! Then we get a sixth mid-tempo Sabbath inspired song with ‘Haunting Visions’! At least the pace picks up a little in the middle of the song to almost a ’70s Judas Priest chug but it’s not enough. Speaking of Judas Priest, the band offers up a cover of the Priest classic ‘The Ripper’. I hate cover songs on studio albums, I’d rather have an original song, but this is a welcome addition because it breaks the slow formula of the last six songs. This is as traditional of a cover as you can get, the band doesn’t stray too far from the original and Matt Bizilia does his best Rob Halford imitation and sounds like a cut below Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens.
I’m disappointed. I really like Icarus Witch and I really wanted to like DRAW DOWN THE MOON but the problem is that there are just too many slow mid-tempo songs and they all start to sound the same after a while. I like the whole retro style because I grew up on traditional styles rooted in Sabbath, Priest, Maiden and the NWOBHM but Icarus Witch takes it to the Sabbath extreme this time around with the plodding pace and there’s not enough bite to the songs. There needs to be some variety, a good mix of slow and fast songs to keep the listener listening. I’ve listened to this album a lot and I come away bored and disappointed. There are some bright spots because the first two songs show what the band is capable of if and ‘Serpent In The Garden’ is the best mid-tempo song on the album. Since this album’s release, Matt Bizilia has left the band and has been replaced by Christopher Saner and the band added Ed Skero as a second guitarist. It will be interesting to hear the band’s next album to see how these new members influence the overall direction. One last thing…..make a longer album. DRAW DOWN THE MOON is just about 36 minutes long, way too short in my book for a full-length…..then again, it’s a good thing it’s a short album!
‘Black Candles’, ‘Aquarius Rising’, ‘Serpent In the Garden’