ICS Vortex
Storm Seeker

1. The Blackmobile
2. Odin’s Tree
3. Skoal!
4. Dogsmacked
5. Aces
6. Windward
7. When Shuffled Off
8. Oil In Water
9. Storm Seeker
10. Flaskeskipper
11. The Sub Mariner

ICS Vortex – Vocals
Asgeir Mickelson – Drums
Terje “Cyrus” Andersen – Guitar
Jens F. Ryland – Guitar
Steinar “Azarak” Gundersen – Bass



Børge Finstad (engineer)
Producer: Børge Finstad, Asgeir Mickelson & ICS Vortex
Mastered by Peter in de Betou at Tailor Maid Studio
recorded at Norwegian Toproom Studio

Released 22/8-2011
Reviewed 8/9-2011

century media

Mix folk music with metal and you'll have what? Cruachan, Elvenking, Skyclad, Finntroll, Turias… Yes, yes - I get it! There's plenty of bands doing it. So what's new with ICS Vortex then? Well, for starters, this isn't just folk and metal, this is metal played metalish but with folk music song structures. Kind of. Mr ICS himself, the voice of the band, sounds almost like a shark with a real biting voice. The music is like a merge between the Scandinavian folk and metal music. I'm thinking about Swedish spelmen, somewhere in the heart of Sweden jumping around with their violins and key fiddles but I imagine ICS Vortez does the same thing with their electric guitars and jumps around in their metal outfits instead. Insane, right?

ICS Vortex is the name a Norwegian guy that has made his name through bands like Borknagar and Dimmu Borgir. In his company on this album we'll find members from both those bands as well as others that play the same kind of music - Norwegian, black and metal… and that quite "pointless" kind of music. Actually, after what Norway went through this summer, they might need some support and sympathy, but not from me when it comes to their black metal. And because ICS and his palls has left most of the blackish metalish stuff out on this album I must say it feels refreshing and inspiring to hear his debut album. This sounds more like hardcore hand black metal - it's faster and the vocals are not as much roars from anxiety played in slow-motion as it is roars of anxiety played full speed. Sure, the melodies sounds as simple as in black metal but it's still very different.

The label say that this is groove and stoner rock and I agree with them, there's groove and stoner rock on this album. It's 45 minutes long and is built around guitar driven metal with a song structure similar to that in Scandinavian folk music, as mentioned before. Most of the album have a nice flow, it's heavy and it's metal and I think it sounds really good as the folk melodies are banging out of the speakers like hardcore. It's catchy and exciting and the songs are varied and keeps up the interest throughout the album, even as the last song begins and takes as by surprise as it sounds like folk music… played on a keyboard. Insane, right?

It doesn't matter if we're talking about the more extreme kind of metal or hardcore or black metal or… folk music actually. This is one of the best albums of the year, The guitars are as metal as tin roof and the music thunder around like Irene as she thundered across the Atlantic ocean in August. This really is quite a spectacle: spelmen, scandinavian folk music, anxiety roars and groovy stoner rock played as hardcore with folk music melodies in the shadow of hurricane Irene. Despite all this it works and I think the reason for that is that ICS and his men have found that balance between too much and too little. His strange and stinging voice fits well with the tornado spinning guitar melodies and the aggressive rhythm section he wear as a backpack is leading us into his unstructured inner life where anything can happen. Somewhere it's Norwegian black metal but there is so much more in to it that it's not really on the same level as those trollish figures that lurks around there. ICS Vortex is like a more radio friendly version of black metal. It's so much influences and melodies and the sound is so much deeper and better. There's a really good production with good sound quality that strikes you like a kick in the stomach. But then again, the album has been recorded with the help of Börge Finstad in Toproom Studios and finished of by Peter in de Betou - how could it ever be a failure?

Overall, this is a really good, heavy album! A really, really good album, actually. For all fans of melodic metal in more extreme category (influenced by folk music).


Label: Century Media
Three similar bands: Solefald/Alpha Safari/Suidakra
Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm
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