When a band who makes a comeback after being on ice for decades is actually called Ice Age, well, there’s a mammoth temptation to unearth waves of puns at the expense of their glacial pace. But we’ll spare you the jokes and get down to the music which is plentiful and impressive. After two notable releases – particularly the praised debut “The Great Divide” in 1999 – the band briefly changed their name to Soulfractured before disappearing from the scene. With guitarist Jimmy Pappas not even picking up a guitar for a good 10 years in the aftermath, any hopes of a reformation looked unlikely until a neighborhood barbecue rekindled friendships and stoked a dormant ember of inspiration. It wasn’t long until the call for a continuation came into play and after a few years of writing and a subsequent pandemic, the band was ready to unleash their third full-length album.
Despite the lengthy sabbatical, it seems like the band picked right up where they previously left off. Indeed, it’s somewhat uncanny how the third album seems like the next evolutionary step the band could have taken 20 years ago, but fate required a much longer pause. This is great news for long-time Ice Age followers as there is certainly no question as to whether or not the band’s still got it. Undeniably, the songs are strong and the performances remarkable. If anything, the band is more of a powerhouse now than they were at the turn of the century. With 3 of the 4 original members still in the lineup, it truly does feel like their heart and soul are still intact. It should already be clear that if you’re a veteran fan of Ice Age, your best bet is to go out and pick up “Waves of Loss and Power” if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.
At this point we should be left with anyone who is new to Ice Age and wondering what it’s all about. As a melodic prog metal (with a small “m”) band that specializes in hooks and memorable twists, Ice Age bridges the gap between Styx, Saga and Dream Theater. Singer and keyboardist Josh Pincus carries more than a few similarities to Dennis DeYoung, while drummer Hal Aponte reveals his Rush influence via a fury of hits throughout the album. The heavier bands from the past few decades come to bear in Pappas’ playing who thoroughly resuscitates his own abilities, while newer bassist Doug Odell ably covers the bottom end with runs and groove. It’s an exciting and stimulating blend of inspirations coming together to deliver modern prog in prime form and who better to capture all of this on tape than Rich Mouser at the mixing desk. With this combination at hand, it’s little surprise that “Waves of Loss and Power” ended up being as good as it is.
“The Needle’s Eye” is a confident hard-hitting opener. Chosen as the first single, it may mislead newcomers as to the breadth of the rest of the material but it nevertheless clears out the cobwebs pretty quickly with insistent riffage alongside percussive pounding. “Riverflow” brings on the prog-rock and is a highlight of the album, weaving together piano and gorgeous vocal melodies from Pincus with good rock sensibilities from the rest of the band. There’s plenty of Pappas’ tasty guitar sprinkled throughout, with a spectacular solo about two-thirds the way through.
A couple of epics tie a connection to the earlier albums in classic proggy form. The majestic “Perpetual Child Part II (Forever)” is a clever bridge to the debut album, given that Part I was one of their most celebrated songs. Although the band claims not to have initially planned for a sequel, once the newer themes started to bear similarities to the original, the thematic connection took on a life of its own. The same can’t be said for “To Say Goodbye” which Pincus intentionally approached as a possible continuation, beginning with a brief piano instrumental as “Part IV (Remembrance)” before leading into soulful closing epic “Part V (Water Child)”. Although it eventually fades out after 15 minutes, the band is still raging and sounding like they have another round in them.
In between, there’s a run of shorter songs which show that the band excels in that form as well. “All My Years” highlights a punchy chorus while “Float Away” rides on a moving Odell bass line and compelling hooks in just over 4 minutes. “Together Now” stretches out a bit longer at 8 minutes, which ends up feeling like the ideal span of time to display all that Ice Age is capable of without lingering too long. It’s another high point of the album as Odell again comes to fore on bass.
Boasting well over an hour of running time, there’s been no lack of new inspiration accompanying Ice Age’s second coming. While a classic running time of 45 minutes is more digestible, it’s hard to blame them for not holding back with so much to say after all this time. The bottom line is whether you are a newcomer or a fan from ages ago, this is a welcome new release which fits 2023 like a glove. (puns withheld)
Released By: Sensory Records
Release Date: March 10th, 2023
Genre: Progressive Rock
“Waves Of Loss And Power“ Track Listing:
1. The Needle’s Eye
3. Perpetual Child, Part II: Forever
4. Together Now
5. All My Years
6. Float Away
7. To Say Goodbye, Part IV: Remembrance
8. To Say Goodbye, Part V: Water Child
“Waves Of Loss And Power” was released on CD and digitally through Laser’s Edge division Sensory Records. Order the CD at the label web-shop HERE , the standard digital version HERE and the 24-bit hi-res version HERE.
2023 surprises yet again with the comeback reunion you never knew you were waiting for. Hailing from NYC, Ice Age treats old fans by releasing their third album over two decades after their sophomore effort. Combining a high-energy mix of soaring vocals, biting guitars, nimble piano playing and rock-solid bass, this quartet is on the harder end of the prog spectrum without quite hitting metal. Their material is melodic yet packs a punch and proves to be a most welcome return without having skipped a beat