There was a time when acts in the vein of Icarus Witch were the temporarily exiled aristocracy of the heavy metal scene. However, Icarus Witch are no nostalgia show. While paying tribute to the past in their singular way, they also look forward, blazing paths with the precision of lasers and the aplomb of a fireworks display.
Icarus Witch are on their fifth album and fourth singer, current throat Andrew D’Cagna also moonlighting in such bands as doomsters Brimstone Coven, and his Ironflame project, which could be considered a sister group considering its British metal worship and that Quinn Lukas also helps out with axe chores over there.
All of Icarus Witch’s singers have been fantastic, but D’Cagna brings an ethic and a conviction on a level that I’ve yet to hear with this particular Pittsburgh act that has been slinging steel for 15 years on. That he is a multi-instrumentalist (the two Ironflame records were one-man productions) only adds to the musicality on this slab of mighty, traditional, Dokkenesque, Queensryche-ish, melodic metal. Be it the Black Sabbath vs. Perfect Strangers-era Deep Purple-inflected “Through Your Eyes” or the stallion’s gallop of the title track, Goodbye Cruel World is simultaneously a gift and a love letter to the 1980’s, heavy metal’s Silver Age if you will, and is there so much silver to be mined along its 10 track, 40 minute stretch. Dark ballad/duet “Antivenom” smolders like hot coals from a fireplace and stains the carpet like red wine, the guest vocal from gothic rock singer Katharine Blake slipping ambrosia into a composition that would have been ordinary otherwise. Lukas is of course puts on yet again another virtuoso performance a la Vito Bratta or the late Paul Samson or Dave Murray and Adrian Smith combined into one fluid, elegant guitarist who shines on one of two instrumentals in “The Flood,” “Silence of the Sirens”, or closer “Until The Bitter End.” Sought-after session man Jon Rice–who has recorded and/or performed with dozens of bands from Scorpion Child and Job For A Cowboy to Behemoth–handles the skins as deftly as one would expect while bassist Jason Myers keeps it all grounded with a mature sense of rhythm and restraint.
Goodbye Cruel World isn’t a perfect record. “Possessed By You” somewhat drags midway with its attempt at unsettling doom yet even it is redeemed partially by the intelligent riffing and soloing that bookends the track, but aside from that and an unnecessary second instrumental in “Mirage” there’s little to frown on and a good deal to rejoice about concerning this disc, Icarus Witch doing The City of Bridges proud in dependably exemplary fashion. I recall bands with a similar style and approach receive far more accolades back in the glory days (I wave my finger at Leatherwolf) than Icarus Witch currently does, and Icarus Witch defeats them all in terms of songcraft, production, and execution, righting wrongs with fabulous, crystalline bullets of sonic redemption.