Label: Fighter Records
Date: July 21st, 2020
There’re a couple of things one has to fall in love, even before playing this record. First of all, this is a one-man band, led by a man who calls himself Jo “Steel” Capitalicide. Capitalicide? Real hitter, don’t you think? Second of all and sort of proving the previous point, Ice War keeps appearing on old school formats. Seems like Jo is dead set on cassettes and vinyl, even if there’s a bunch of CDs out there too.
Another thing is that “Defender, Destroyer” is the fourth record by Ice War, with its predecessor being the tribute to Canadian metal. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention Mr. Capitalicide is Canadian. So he decided, a couple of years ago, to cover bands like Razor, Exciter, Minotaur and the likes. Especially commendable is the fact that there are some names I didn’t even know about. Quite a nice way to present your home scene.
Now, surely you don’t expect Ice War is a kind of nu / rap / gothic / symphonic metal? Hell no! This is the sound that goes way back to the early 1980’s. Think about the early speed metal, like the mentioned Excited or Razor. With a significant punk touch, dating back to the early Iron Maiden records. Yes, Paul Di’Anno fronted Maiden.
Another important aspect of Ice War’s sound is the relatively crude production work. It fits like a glove, giving you the feeling of raw, natural power. As if you are standing in the middle of a sweaty crowd in some small underground pub. Pretty much where this type of music originated from.
Regarding the musicality emerging from these 38 minutes, there’s not much to tell you. You should all be very familiar with this. Surgically sharp riffing slides between simplified, yet enraged punk to a bit more skilled thrashy speed bumps Ice War flies across at full speed. Accentuated bass guitar is very much reminiscent of what Mr. Harris does throughout Iron Maiden’s career. I have no clue if Jo actually played those drums, or are they programmed. They do sound natural and quite diverse. Skillfully created patterns pump up the adrenaline to the max, so you have a hard time actually sitting tight as the record spins. Trust me, my legs are going berserk as I sit and write this. Even in the slower songs, like “Mountains of Skulls”.
Raspy and raw vocals add to the charm, again bringing reminders of Paul Di’Anno. To add to the punk influences are the gang chants in the choruses here and there. Those are some of the main reasons why it is a shame Ice War doesn’t see the stage flashlights.
The themes covered are also as classical as it gets. Hell, fire, demons, skulls and other pleasantries. Wrap it all up in the cover artwork which screams Judas Priest, Manowar and such lords of metal. And what do you get? 21st century heavy metal for people expecting grandkids. Still gets the blood to boil!
Though a primeval forest, it still needs watering from time to time. From that perspective, you can count Ice War among the metal environmentalists. Great job!