God DAMN, we’ve been getting a lot of thrash metal around here lately [It’s important to point out that there is a direct correlation between the amount being released and the amount we review – AMG]. It’s almost reached the point where there’s not much left to say about it. It reminds me of the urban legend about Mick Jagger having sex with David Bowie back in the ’70s – not because Jagger is gay, he claimed, but because he’d had sex with so many women that he simply got bored with it, and just wanted to try something different. I’m not about to do any of that, so instead, here’s what’s up with Icarus, the new album from Germany’s Dew-Scented.
For the uninitiated, Dew-Scented plays a style of thrash that borders on death metal, reminiscent of (obviously) fellow Germans Kreator, although with a more brutal approach in the vocal department. It’s a welcome change of pace after hearing 800 bands trying to be Slayer and/or D.R.I.. This stuff may not be innovative or forward-thinking, but it’s not deliberately retro either. Icarus is the band’s 9th studio album.
Interestingly, the Dew-Scented lineup has experienced near-complete turnover since the last record. The band currently includes guitarist Marvin Vriesde (Severe Torture), drummer Koen Herfst (Epica), and bassist Joost van der Graaf (Sinister), alongside frontman/lone original member Leif Jensen. Perhaps even more interesting is that despite being essentially a new band with the same singer, it still sounds remarkably like the Dew-Scented of old. I listened to Icarus several times before reading the accompanying press release, and had no idea that the lineup had changed at all. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing depends on your viewpoint.
The album gets off to a solid, if predictable start. After the obligatory intro track “Hubris,” “Sworn to Obey” is a solid, thrashy opener (even if it’s dangerously similar to something off of that new Kreator album). And if you like that track, you’ll probably enjoy most of the others, because they’re pretty similar. “A Final Procession” and “Destined to Collapse” attempt to assimilate some Lamb of God-style groove, and feel slightly out-of-place as a result. Ditto for the breakdown in album closer “Perpetuated.”
And let’s not forget the guest vocalists! Rob Urbinati of Sacrifice throws down a verse on “Gleaming Like Silver,” and Dan “Will Perform GuestVocals for Food” Swanö (Bloodbath) does his thing on the track “Reawakening”. Jensen’s vocals are meaty and pissed off, but they’re also pretty one-dimensional and can get monotonous after a while, so the guest spots do add some much-needed variety to the record. Guitarist Dennis Schneider of Retaliation also contributes a couple of solos, of which there seem to be very few considering this is a thrash record.
I could probably copy and paste this from any of the other thrash albums we’ve reviewed lately [We can do that? – Steel Druhm] [No! Only *I* get to mail it in around here! – AMG], but here’s the bottom line: whether you need to hear Icarus or not depends on what you expect out of it. If you’re looking for something musically groundbreaking, it ain’t here. And if you just want some old-fashioned thrash metal riffage, it’ll get the job done, but there are other bands doing this style better lately (again, Kreator comes to mind). Shit, even if all you want is to hear Swanö sing a few lines, there’s about 50 other albums from this year alone where you could hear that. Icarus is thrashy, heavy, and solid – but far from essential.