Ice Age - Liberation

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9051-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:07:00

To be honest it had never occurred to me on the band's debut The Great Divide how close singer Josh Pincus' voice comes to that of Saga frontman Michael Sadler mixed with the theatrical approach of Styx legend Dennis De Young, although maybe less melodical and more powerful. In exactly the same line-up Ice Age delivers their second attempt in trying to establish themselves right at the top of the ever growing prog metal movement. The album is called Liberation and deals with powerful nations oppressing smaller countries like how the Chinese have taken over Tibet, killing millions along the way. In other words Ice Age makes you think instead of simply enjoying their music.

By putting both guitarist Jimmy Pappas and singer/keyboard player Josh Pincus in the producer's seat, the album has gained maturity and all instruments seem to shine in a very balanced way. Take "The Blood Of Ages," where guitars and keyboards seem to fight each other, where hard guitar riffs blend well with majestic washes of string sections, where overwhelming powerful sections go hand in hand with softer passages. The same for the solo spot in "A Thousand Years" where guitar and keyboards first have their own technical showpiece before blending together in pure fusion style. "When You're Ready" is a resting point opening in an acoustic way which has the name Styx come to mind. Next to a very catchy vocal melody this song also sports some nice piano playing. That same classical piano waits around the bend in "Musical Cages" which has Pappas approach his guitar as a cross between Steve Howe and Steve Morse. Funny I should mention Howe as there's a weird section towards the end where the sound reminds me of part of Relayer, however sped up several times to create something new, something cooking and yet cool!

What is nice is that the band has introduced short instrumental pieces that are scattered all over the album to kind of break up the album into various segments. "Monolith" is a theme from the band's first demo from 1992 from when they were still called Monolith (hence the title) which got re-worked as an intro for "The Guardian Of Forever." The latter's lyrics were written by drummer Hal Aponte and include a lot of cool imagery of knights in battle to give it a medieval feel (maybe they should have asked label mates Tempest to add a little bit of authentic acoustic instruments?). If you're looking for a song filled with rhythm breaks then this is it. It's also a wonderful showpiece for the bass playing skills of Arron DiCesare whilst Josh introduces his array of keyboards by means of frantic synth solos. We all remember Saga scattering sections of their ongoing "saga" all over their albums, well, Ice Age does exactly the same thing with "To Say Goodbye." After putting parts 1 and 2 on their debut album, it's time to add part 3, "Still Here," on their latest output. The song kicks off with some tasty guitar and also sports some nice harmonies along the way. Josh's vocals sound very theatrical whilst the guitar solos are amazing. If you take this song as a sample-card for the entire album then I'm convinced you'll be sold and Liberation will soon find its place in your record collection. The album closes with the eastern sounding instrumental "Tong-Len," a short keyboard impression including some superb classical piano courtesy of Josh Pincus. A wonderful ending for an amazing album. Well done!

The Lhasa Road (8:38) / March Of The Red Dragon (1:07) / The Blood Of Ages (7:15) / A Thousand Years (6:10) / When You:re Ready (8:58) / Musical Cages (6:31) / Monolith (1:15) / The Guardian Of Forever (6:48) / Howl (1:41) / The Wolf (4:40) / To Say Godbye, Part III : Still Here (8:19) / Tong-Len (1:34)

Jimmy Pappas - guitars
Hal Aponte - drums, percussion
Josh Pincus - vocals, keyboards
Arron DiCesare - bass

'Join' (1998?) (demo)
The Great Divide (1999)
Liberation (2001)
Little Bird (ep) (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: February 11th 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

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Language: english


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