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Icewar - Defender, Destroyer Award winner

Defender, Destroyer
by Emily Schneider at 07 July 2020, 3:11 PM

ICE WAR hails from Ottawa, Canada. This Heavy/Speed Metal band is a one-man wonder, Jo plays every instrument and writes all the songs himself. The 4th album of this project, “Defender, Destroyer” is blazing in on July 21st, 2020 with a path of frozen fire following in its wake.

“Power From Within” is the quintessential '80s Speed Metal intro. There's some triumphant melody, speedy riffs, and a short and cool guitar solo in the middle. The Punk/Thrash tuning style added some more interest to the track as well. “Defender, Destroyer” is one fast paced song. The way this song was mixed makes it sound like it was recorded in a cavern, as if the song is the battle plans of a group of soldiers ready to ambush their enemies. You definitely want to smash and thrash around to this speedy number. “Soldiers of Frost” somehow pushes the speed even faster than the previous song. It's like the whipping winds of a blizzard with whirling riffs, frantic bass lines, and rolling shivering drums. The solo is chaotic and fierce, much like the storm surrounding the battle described in the song as well. “Rising From the Tomb” captures the 'rising from the dead' feeling with how the song builds and rolls as it goes along. “Mountains of Skulls” has more of an early HELLOWEEN feel with its Thrash Power Metal blend in the melody.

“Crucified in Fire” starts out with a rolling drum melody, like a military march. It builds from that to a pure Heavy Metal track set ablaze with a rising flame-like melody and a smoky atmosphere surrounding it. The isolated vocals at the end was such an awesome detail, it finished off the song perfectly. “Demonoid” opens with some insane riffs, speed-wise. The speeding heartbeat pace of the song really builds this feeling of danger as the demonoid spreads terror and death. The level of danger and urgency builds with the growing dynamics until the bombastic end. “Skull and Crossbones”  had a Thrash/Punk emphasis stylistically. “Running Out of Time” is another song that starts out pretty fast, but manages to gain more speed as it goes along. It's thrashy and catchy, just be careful not to take your neck out banging your head to this one. “Breakaway” is the closing track in a similar 'give yourself whiplash' fast and heavy vein as the last few songs. It's exciting to listen to with the frantic riffs and hard hitting chorus.

Overall, “Defender Destroyer” is a killer old-school style Speed Metal album. I really like the Punk influence that comes from the vocal style and the tuning of the guitars in many of the tracks; it adds some dimension and excitement to the music itself. The main thing that impresses me about this album is the fact that every instrument is played by the same person. Jo does a stellar job on each one; the speedy guitars, the blade sharp bass lines, and frantic drums. Plus, his cool perfect blend of Thrash and Punk styles in his vocals are top notch. I also found myself intrigued by the atmospheres that more than a handful of the songs managed to create with pacing plus melody. The mixing was also a massive part of that effect; it certainly captures the more retro 'recorded in a basement' feel that has such a charm on Speed Metal fans like myself. I'm definitely going to move backwards in ICE WAR's discography after enjoying this one as much as I did.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Power From Within
2. Defender, Destroyer
3. Soldiers of Frost
4. Rising from the Tomb
5. Mountains of Skulls
6. Crucified in Fire
7. Demonoid
8. Skull and Crossbones
9.Running out of Time
10. Breakaway
Jo "Steel" Capitalicide -All instruments and vocals
Record Label: Fighter Records


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