Wednesday 1 June 2016

Ice Howl - Crack The Earth (Album Review)

Release date: May 28th 2016. Label: Self Relased. Format: DD

Crack The Earth – Tracklisting

1.Where The Druids Dwell 04:03
2.Echoes Of War 05:08
3.Crack The Earth 03:50
4.The Tracker 04:33
5.Kyteler 07:12
6.Sorcerer's Call 05:30
7.Beyond The Ice Fall 07:06

Band Members:

Travis Roach - Guitar/Vocals
Tucker Thomasson - Bass
Niko Albanese - Drums


Ice Howl are a fairly new Doom/Stoner Metal band as their music will mostly appeal to fans of The Sword and Grand Magus. You have members of Thorr-Axe and Lawbringer part of this hugely talented line-up. So they’re talent or their passion for creating riffs is never in doubt. Ice Howl’s debut album – Crack The Earth – is an album that contains a huge amount of fantastical elements all held together by a heavy pounding Stoner Metal vibe.

Opening track – Where The Druids Dwell – may give you the impression of a Power-Metal band but don’t fear as Ice Howl are heavily influenced by early-era The Sword. It’s a progressive instrumental song with a groove based psychedelic vibe showing you what to expect for the next forty minutes. The drumming is precise throughout with the riffs having a clear direct sound of their own.

Second track – Echoes Of War – is where lead vocalist Travis finally makes his appearance with his vocals influenced by some of the more recent Stoner Metal vocalists currently out there. Though you can hear Travis shows his appreciation for vocalists from the 70s/80s Doom Metal scene. The riffs take a more heavy metal style of delivery which allows the band to change the tone of the album for this track. It’s still a Doom/Stoner Metal track but Ice Howl drop the odd heavy thrash based riffs from time to time.

Third track – Crack The Earth – sees Ice Howl take the bull by the horns and become more comfortable with their psychedelic surroundings. The lyrics have a deeper fantasy element compared to the opening two tracks but you don’t care as you’re lost in sheer amount of fun and excitement the band play with each passing second. If you look on Ice Howl’s Facebook Page they describe themselves for fans Of The Sword, Grand Magus, Kvelertak and Truckfighters. OK maybe Truckfighters mention is a tad extreme but the rest of the bands I will definitely agree with. Crack The Earth is perhaps one of the best tracks on the album and it’s one that shows the full range of influences that Ice Howl play with.

Don’t think that Ice Howl are a mere copycat of other bands as they’re not. This is Ice Howl’s show and they prove time and time again in how to deliver an exciting and action packed album. For such a relatively new band you’ll be surprised how great these guys actually sound. It feels like they’ve been around for years instead of the relatively short few months they actually have been together as a band.

Anyway, back to the review. The second half of the album takes a slightly heavier turn with fourth track – The Tracker – combining NWOBHM with Thin Lizzy style riffs. It’s a heavy and fast-paced affair with crackles of Fuzz starting to appear. The only drawback on this track is the lyrics; they could have done with more work here and there.

The final tracks – Kyteler, Sorcerer’s Call and Beyond The Ice Fall sees Ice Howl offer twenty minutes of intense and fast-paced riffs. This part of the album has a fresher sound compared to the first half of the album. Maybe too polished at times but it does allows Ice Howl to focus on what they do best in creating heavy progressive psychedelic riffs.

The production is superb from start to finish with Ice Howl showing an air of confidence that some bands don’t show on their debut albums. Ice Howl offer top-notch Doom/Stoner Metal escapism with Crack The Earth. This is a must have album and I predict a very bright future for Ice Howl as Crack The Earth is a stunning debut album. Watch these guys soar.

Words by Steve Howe