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ICARUS WITCH No Devil Lived On

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Monday, November 13, 2023 @ 8:07 AM

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No Devil Lived On

Cleopatra Records

Ecological/societal collapse!
Project Gaia!
Aradia and unlikely spiritual alliances!

Flexing their creative muscle following their second European festival trip in a year, dark melodic metal masters ICARUS WITCH have been channeling their wicked energy into the release of No Devil Lived On, an ambitious occult sci-fi concept album. An inevitable pursuit for the Pittsburgh-based quartet known for their unique blend of neo-classic DIO-meets-RYCHE heavy metal that incorporates subtle elements of doom, prog, goth, power, classic rock, and AOR throughout the course of their nearly two decades-long career, but No Devil also appears to be the first time that the band have horned in on a concept album as well.

Band founder/bassist/lyricist Jason Myers explains the concept here: "The story begins as Earth is nearing ecological and societal collapse. An unlikely alliance of witches, wizards, shamans, and other-dimensional beings unite to create a strategy to rid the planet of its greedy mortal overlords. In the process, the old gods take on a new digital AI form to communicate with the mystics of tomorrow who seek to restore nature's balance and reset Project Gaia before it's too late. In other words Space Witches."

Given that Myers has been a practicing priest of witchcraft himself for close to 40 years, he's the perfect author to curate this concept. Meanwhile, a more sonic description of the album is best summarized by guitarist and co-songwriter Quinn Lukas:

"While previous albums lean into more traditional metal instrumentation, No Devil Lived On takes that formula a step further injecting fresh sonic elements into the mix including retrofuturistic analog synths that would sound at home on a John Carpenter soundtrack."

I could almost just end the review right here with that description alone, but for the avid trad metal fan discovering the captured magic of ICARUS WITCH for the first time, No Devil stands as the gateway album here despite it being the band's 7th studio album overall.

So what does make No Devil a proper advocate in ICARUS WITCH's overall musical transition? First off, it is replete with well-crafted yet dark-sounding melodic overtones without sounding too unnecessarily overbearing. Opening number "Heaven's Ghetto" alone is a thundering introductory to the album's tone, best defined as SLAUGHTER's anthemic debut "Up All Night" as if reworked as anything off from Operation: Mindcrime. The vocal talents of frontman Andew D'Cagna easily transcends and resonates into the overall egress of No Devil's conceptual and dark tone while keeping a steady balance away from pastiche. He successfully narrates the course of the narrative of Project Gaia's current unfocused and dangerous onslaught during "Stranger Than Angels" and the urgent escapism tone of "Last Night On Earth". Standout follow-up numbers such as the neck-wrecking banger "10,000 Light Years From Home" (the official bastard offspring from 2007's "Out For Blood"), the powerfully anthemic-sounding "A Heartbeat Away" and the title track all offer sonic redemption as they covet the battleground as a wiser and adaptable machine prepared to correct the uneven balance of what the digital AI overlords had unleashed. By the time that the first chords of the optimistic-sounding number "Rise Of The Witches" are played, you can feel the shifting of Project Gaia's overall dynamic returning to its overall course - the sound of an important mission achieving success upon its closure. And "Rise Of The Witches" is indeed the proverbial testimony of its own success story, allowing its spirits to cast free from their internal trappings. Rounding out the album would be the freeballing number "Shadowchaser" (video on KNAC.COM HERE) with its catchy opening riff harkening back to RAINBOW's "All Night Long" sounding like the invisible hand of Graham Bonnet guiding the track to success John Maynard Keynes style. Following up that number would be the closing 10-minute opus "Starseed Triliogy" which can be best described as ICARUS WITCH's most QUEENSRYCHE-sounding number ever, drawing parallels to "Suite Sister Mary" at the very least in parts as its mostly speedy-sounding delivery guides the song and album's climax to a dramatic end.

While there is a familiar-sounding pattern to the equally collaborative efforts of Myers, Lukas and D'Cagna's work amongst some of their other bands including BRIMSTONE COVEN, NECHOCHWEN, and IRONFLAME - especially with the latter's inclusion of their live drummer Noah Skiba making his debut on this album - it is with ICARUS WITCH and particularly on this album where their talents are at their brightest and its details all the more devilishly distinct.

5.0 Out Of 5.0


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