ICS Vortex - Storm Seeker review


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Band: ICS Vortex
Album: Storm Seeker
Release date: August 2011

01. The Blackmobile
02. Odin's Tree
03. Skoal!
04. Dogsmacked
05. Aces
06. Windward
07. When Shuffled Off
08. Oil In Water
09. Storm Seeker
10. Flaskeskipper
11. The Sub Mariner

Being a major part of the histories of Borknagar and Arcuturus, while gaining some mainstream cred during his time with Dimmu Borgir, if you've been into black metal of any sort over the past 20 years you've probably heard this man's voice somewhere. ICS Vortex's first solo effort is one that can be very polarizing, but time has been kind to it. When ICS Vortex was making his initial impact in metal, it was during a period when his vocals were only accepted due to their proximity to the harsher screams that they acted in contrast to, but with so many previously death/black metal pioneers trending toward clean vocals, Storm Seeker no longer seems like such an anomaly.

Another major polarizing feature of Storm Seeker is the lyrics, which deal very little with nature or other esoteric topics that black metal is rooted in and instead focus on relationships and the passions of his own daily life. This was initially a deal-breaker for me as I didn't care for what we in the States would call a 'southern style' that poured out of every song. Vehicles, chew, hitting the road, and all sorts of country and western cliches make appearances, which is really quite a jarring contrast to what we in the black metal community are generally used to. We expect all of these guys to be demonic, satanic wizards, so the idea that ICS Vortex was just another human being with human interests was hard to get around.

This is perhaps where time has been most kind however. As I've gotten older, the fact that ICS Vortex reflected himself in his solo album rather than some alter ego is really quite refreshing. Now the barrier of personal experience has shifted as I appreciate how different his life is from mine and see it as an insight into his world rather than his music needing to be a reflection of my own. These are the unsung benefits of aging, really, gaining new appreciation for so many of the things you previously took for granted and being able to get all that good out of them finally.

I want to bring particular focus to the song "Windward," as it has managed to grip me during two completely different stages of my life. This seriously has to be one of the catchiest songs in all of metal and is the only song I initially liked off of the album when it released. I recently found a cheap copy of the Storm Seeker, after forgetting everything about it, and immediately honed in on this one again, having probably listened to it about a hundred times on its own. The subject matter is quite meaningful as it deals with a person trying to get in contact with a past love to rekindle their friendship as it is obvious the two will never date again but time has changed them both in ways that might help them heal all those past wounds. It's made a really significant impact on my view of life honestly.

- In Short - Storm Seeker has some highs and lows with the highs being really high and the lows being forgivable. I don't think anyone who is familiar with ICS Vortex was expecting some blistering black metal madness and, while the music could be fleshed out a bit better, they still do a good job of supporting the main course of the dish: the vocals. If you're unfamiliar with the artist in question it is hard to know how you'll react as his voice has a very unique cadence to it, one I happen to enjoy a lot, but that may well be the final polarizing factor of the album. Storm Seeker leaves room for future improvements, if there ever is a second solo album, but as a standalone it is solid enough.

For A Taste, Check Out: "Windward", "The Blackmobile"

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 7

Written by WayTooManyCDs | 15.03.2018


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

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