Style: Epic Pagan Power Metal
Similar bands: Darkest Era, Wrathblade, Dark Forest
Release date: 15.08.2018
It’s always a great feeling to stumble across a newcomer band in the vastness of the Internet that you might never have heard of in times before Bandcamp, YouTube & Co., and that puts you into ecstasy with its underground charm. And if you are fortunate enough, you may even find a dedicated online-dealer who will get you the album without having to pay for shipping from far-off places.
Without this globally networked world, I might never have discovered the American band ICE SWORD and probably might never have been able to lay my shaking hands upon this true gem of Power Metal called “Dragon Magic”.
Although Power Metal should not be understood as an overly strict genre name, because what follows after the atmospheric intro is far too heavy and far too epic for typical Power Metal. But since the fantasy concept, as well as the use of a keytar, as well as the catchy tunes fit very well with this genre, that’s quite all right.
But more exciting than the answer to the question of whether this is Power, Black, Thrash, Epic or especially Pagan Metal (or in this case, actually a bit of everything), are the passion and the insouciance, which one can feel here from the first to the last minute. Well, the impression of insouciance might be intentionally. Too weird are some of the guitar and keytar solos, too much do the artificial flutes sound like cheap Dungeon Synth and too often do you ask yourself – given the abrupt changes in tempo and heaviness – if these guys are actually quite sane, to take all of this completely seriously. If you really want to take it seriously.
But does an album, even on a low budget, nowadays have to sound like a demo recorded live in the rehearsal room? In this case, presumably with intention? Even if this means that the drums are often mixed too much into the mids, where they cannot compete with the guitars? The answer could be “It does not have to, but it is welcome to do so!”, because the rumbling sound on “Dragon Magic” enhances its sympathetic underground character even more.
“Sympathetic” also applies to the narrative style of singing, which sounds very Irish in my ears and would also nicely suit a folk band. Coupled with the Celtic-seeming melodies and rhythms, the style of ICE SWORD therefore could be described as pagan, which finally is the recurring theme throughout the album, as well as the storyline.
“Dragon Magic” is obviously difficult to label. However, fans of bands like DARKEST ERA and WRATHBLADE can get it without hesitation and will discover a true treasure of the unpredictable underground of Metal.