ICE AGE – Waves of Loss and Power (2023)
New Jersey prog metallers ICE AGE are back with their first album in 22 years titled “Waves of Loss and Power“. Originally formed on Long Island, NY, Ice Age began in 1991 when the four members clicked over a mutual passion for classic and progressive rock with a penchant for heavier music undercurrents.
The band was signed by the noted progressive label Magna Carta resulting in 1999’s first album, and a second in 2001. The band supported the releases with festival performances and tours of Europe and the USA. At that point ICE AGE took an extended break but the members stayed in contact.
If you are new to ICE AGE don’t be confused by the band’s name or the new album artwork which makes you think about ‘epic power metal’ – NO, Ice Age are classic ’90s progressive metal wearing their varied influences confidently on their collective sleeve.
Once again the band conjures the spirits of Queensryche, Rush, Fates Warning, Dream Theater, with fleeting shades of of Kansas, Genesis, Styx, and more.
It’s hard to believe that 22 years have passed. Picking up right where they left off, the band sounds as if no time at all has passed between the sophomore effort and ”Waves of Loss and Power”. Opening with The Needle’s Eye, the song is a powerful punch in the face which grabs your attention and never lets up.
Josh Pincus dominates the tune with a vocal that has lost none of its edge, alternating between a lone voice and layered vocals for emphasis. Dual guitar and bass riffs navigate ever-shifting time signatures with formidable chops. Pincus’ keyboards remain in the background for most of the song, adding color, while Jimmy Pappas’ guitars crunch and grind through the song with the aid of Hal Aponte’s precise drumming. Not until later in the song does Pincus come to the fore, offering a couple of brief solos.
Riverflow begins with a nice acoustic piano introduction, recalling a debt to Tony Banks. Quickly, though, layers of electric guitar leads take over. This time, in place of The Needle’s Eye gut punch, melodicism is paramount, Pincus and Pappas blending beautifully. The guitar sounds on this album are generally of superior tonal quality but are particularly astounding on Riverflow. Covering everything from crunchy to percussive to soaringly melodic, the tiers of guitars never muddy up the sonics. The tune is richly detailed with emphasis on the composition.
Perpetual Child, Part II: Forever is the first of two epics which are continuations of songs from the first couple albums. Make no mistake – these are not reprises of the original tunes, rather they carry the spirit of their predecessors forward.
Once more, Pincus’ vocals shine, a commanding presence while the tune itself veers between light and darkness. In this sequel, the lyrics reference time catching up with you and the attendant consequences. Not a minute of the song’s nearly fifteen minutes is wasted. New ideas in both concept and execution are rife, yet always cohesive, each piece fitting the next as neatly as a jigsaw puzzle. The song begins with a heavier approach, as if admonishing the Child from 1999, but the warmth and beauty of the tune embrace that same child with a loving hug.
The next two songs are short and song-oriented. All My Years is a radio-friendly tune, catchy, melodic. Float Away combines melody with progness. Like Rush, who never dumbed-down for a single, Float Away shows off the band’s strengths in a bite-sized chunk. Pappas’ guitar solo in particular impresses.
The final two songs that end the album are To Say Goodbye, Part IV: Remembrance and Part V: Water Child. Together clocking in at over seventeen minutes, they comprise the best moments on the record.
Remembrance is solo piano piece with a beautiful chord progression. It is a perfect palate cleanser for Water Child. Picking up with a continuation of the piano piece, the song builds quickly, as if in a hurry to show what it is capable of.
A continuation of songs that appeared on their previous albums, the band wisely allows the keys to lead the song, never stepping on the vocal or the piano. That said, listen to how Pappas’ riffs and chords shape the song, providing the lines within which the other instruments colour. Not until halfway through does the guitar assert itself, with a nicely constructed solo which builds without becoming frantic.
Pappas is not a shredder for the sake of flash; he always plays in service to the song, unlike most of his prog metal peers. These guys know how to construct an epic, varying the mood, tempo and instrumentation to maximum effect. The layered vocal lines at the end of the song are the icing on an already delicious cake, climactic and uplifting.
This is for sure is a welcome return for Ice Age. The band have managed to defy the years, sounding as good – if not better – than before.
Three albums in twenty-five years is not exactly prodigious output. Still, it’s hard to complain when the product is of this quality. Let’s hope this is not the band’s final statement.
01 – The Needle’s Eye
02 – Riverflow
03 – Perpetual Child, Part II (Forever)
04 – Together Now
05 – All My Years
06 – Float Away
07 – To Say Goodbye, Part IV (Remembrance)
08 – To Say Goodbye, Part V (Water Child)
Josh Pincus: Vocals and Keyboards
Jimmy Pappas: Guitars
Hal Aponte: Drums and Percussion
Doug Odell: 4 and 5 String Electric Basses