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First Angel Media

First angel media

Icarus Witch-No Devil Lived On

Immediately, even before note one, based solely on imagery and sheer intuition as a seasoned heavy metal connoisseur, one can ascertain that No Devil Lived On, the palindromic (figuratively and literally) 6th full-length studio album from Pennsylvanian traditionalists Icarus Witch, is their Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and Operation: Mindcrime all at once. So yes, it’s a concept album, one that is mystical, mythical, and rooted in both science-fiction and the occult.

Just as Iron Maiden’s previously mentioned 7th album was based on a work of literature (an Orson Scott Card novel), No Devil Lived On takes its inspiration from an 1899 tome called Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches by folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland.

Yet it simultaneously maintains a futuristic vibe, telling a story all its own.

Yes, it’s quite a highwire act, but it works…somehow. It’s best not to ask why. Consider that the esoteric, eccentric, and arcane nature of Icarus Witch is what sets them apart from other artists in the numerous metal subgenres their music encompasses. Thus, in essence, No Devil Lived On, may stand as the definitive Icarus Witch album.

Icarus Witch, have always invoked the word “class” much like bands as varied as Dokken, Crimson Glory, Fates Warning, Whitesnake, and Dio have, and that maturity, intelligence, depth, and sophistication is only amplified on this magnum opus.

Despite my initial impressions, the record takes a spell to truly dig into, or rather, it digs into you. “Heaven’s Ghetto,” the first cut, comes off as slightly pedestrian until a second waltz through its dream-like, sonic shadows envelop you via a smooth, haunting chorus buoyed with rocky riffage and DeGarmo/Wilton licks that seemingly lift the listener into outer space or another dimension…never to return? You may not want to. It’s that engrossing.

Aside from racing lead single “10,000 Light Years From Home” and portions of the album closer, an epic in 3 parts that is a must-hear and a mind-trip, the bulk of the songs float like apparitions (“Last Night On Earth) or march like soldiers (the title track). There’s also a sense of calculated restraint to it all, an ethic that eschews histrionics for practicality and art.

And once again, Icarus Witch have built an ensemble’s ensemble of an effort.

Can we talk about what an axe-sorcerer Quinn Lukas is and why he needs to rank higher in terms of notoriety and appreciation in the metal kingdom? The man has delivered the finest solos and chords of his career on this black shield of wax, playing like Murray, Smith, Goldy, Aldrich, Gelotte, Faulkner, Stromblad, and Sykes all within a 51-minute record, taming serpents, sword-fighting, and conjuring lightning through and for all eras of metal with an agility, premonition, and ease not seen by far more experienced musicians. He should be featured in all the glossy, flashy guitar magazines currently in circulation, and perhaps, if tastemakers finally begin to pay attention, we will. No Devil Lived On commands it.

Bass warrior Jason Myers also turns in a highlight of a performance as does new drummer Noah Skiba, whose seasoned skinsmanship makes him sound as though he’s been pounding out the iron in a dozen bands for dozens of moons already, but one member who does have a list of credentials as long as a dragon’s tail and as varied as a Persian bazaar is singer and god-level multitasker (look him up on Metal Archives) Andrew D’ Cagna, who goes from Tate to Dickinson to Alder to dear, departed, good, old Ronnie James Dio in 0 to 30 within an eyeblink or finger snap throughout the album’s timespan. If someone created a composite metal musician through magic, a fellow who can do it all, you would have Andrew D’ Cagna. Like Lukas, D ‘Cagna is one of the most important figures in metal that not enough of fans know of. I hope this album will change things for he gives us the showcase of his life here.

And speaking of the unknown, if you will, No Devil Lived On, embraces it in several aspects, serving as that great traditional/progressive metal album you were unaware that you needed in your life, from its jarring beginning to eerie, astral finish, spoken word portions symbolically bookending this aural tale. Let it take hold of you, your psyche, and your soul. It is a ride, a sojourn, a musical and lyrical odyssey into the alien and the spectral, borne of the entirety of metal’s rich legacy, a cornucopia that will be considered seminal in the decades to follow.

And to think I was worried I wouldn’t like it. Overly anxious concerning its impending release, I ashamedly hoped it would be delayed in order to allow myself more time to mentally prepare for it. What a fool I can be, and I am a fool for the music of Icarus Witch. Any serious fan of melodic metal’s various strains should be as well.

Oh. By the way, if I haven’t hinted about it enough, read the title backwards. Clever, lads. Verrry clever.