Icarus Witch - Roses On White Lace - Independent 2004
5 Songs
Running Time: 17:07

When you think of cities in which the banner of old-school Power Metal is being held high, Pittsburgh just doesn't come to mind. It would seem, however, that from beneath the steel mills and in the shoebox-sized clubs the city is famous for, Icarus Witch has taken flight. The title of this EP may sound very familiar, and well it should, being one of the finer (and most metallic) songs penned by Alice Cooper before Desmond Child and Bob Ezrin sucked all the grit from the witchy one in the 80s. Also, according to a post on the band's mySpace site, this CD's very existence is due to the recording of the title song for an Alice Cooper tribute disc released by Cleopatra Records. Cleopatra has long been a home for third-rate My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult knockoffs, so my excitement was tempered by this affiliation, albeit tenuous.

I'm not sure about the wisdom of not only making a cover song the first track on your debut disc, but of having that cover be the title song as well. Still and all, I can see why Icarus Witch chose this song, their version doing justice to the original, with vocalist Matthew Bizilia injecting a nearly-passable Warrel Dane tone here and there. Sadly, it's with the next song (and first original number), 'Curse Of The Ice Maiden', that a problem arises. Bizilia's Dane-ish vocalizations not only remain, but push forward into blatant aping, with the rest of the band seemingly content to follow him right into a carbon copy of a band few can even approximate as an influence, much less a comparison. In Nevermore, one finds Mr. Dane occasionally speaking snatches of lyrics for dramatic effect. In Icarus Witch, the same holds true, both in 'Curse...' and later on. The problem lies in the fact that when you have only three original songs on a disc, any pattern becomes that much more noticeable due to the few shots you have at grabbing the listener's attention. 'Halcyon' follows, which is neither an instrumental nor a song, but more a bed of sound effects, working neither as an outro for the previous song or an intro for the next. It just seems to be stuck there, reasonless and bland. The thing that's so frustrating for me about this disc is that the musicianship is actually pretty top-notch in the technical sense. Also, not to say that the vocals aren't "good". They are, and I'm sure that after honing his craft and finding his voice, Bizilia will come into his own quite nicely. As a young band, however, you must be careful not to wear one band's influence too prominently upon your denim sleeves, else be written off early on. The EP ends with 'Dragon Ryder', which is good mid-paced Power Metal, actually letting a bit of Jag Panzer show through.

Since this release, drummer JC Dwyer has gone on to bigger - if not necessarily better - things with Pro-Pain, but is planned to return for the recording of the full-length debut by Icarus Witch. This is a good thing, because his drumming seems to work better in a more straightforward Metal band than in the prison core for which Mr. Meskill and company are known.

If freed from the bonds of their influences, I could see Icarus Witch becoming a force to reckon with in time. In the meantime, if you just can't get enough Power Metal in your musical diet, pick this up. Me, I'll probably just spin Dead Heart In A Dead World again.

www.icaruswitch.com


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