Dew-Scented: Icarus

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Dew-Scented: Icarus
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Dew-Scented: Icarus
Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Prosthetic Records
July 31st, 2012
Release length: 44:36
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Dew-Scented is a long running Death/Thrash Metal group that has existed since 1992. In that time, they have built a strong, sturdy fan base, though never reaching the height of popularity they rightly deserve. Over those many years, they have issued eight full-length offerings, many of which have been plagued with production issues according to stories and interviews in many magazines and website, as well as have issued a number of smaller efforts like split releases. In 2010, Metal Mind Productions reissued their entire discography up to that point, and also was the year the band found themselves signing with Prosthetic Records to release Invocation. It’s now two years later, and their ninth album, Icarus is upon us. But, is this the redeeming Dew-Scented release that will break them out to the masses, or will this be another somewhat mediocre effort the follows in its recent predecessor’s footsteps?

It takes very little time at all for Icarus to immediately make the listener aware of what he or she is in store for. The production is largely crisp with a nice heaviness to it’s modern values. The guitars have a deeper distortion to them, but can also have a sharper, lighter sound that benefits greatly from the bass. Fortunately, when the material is a lot richer it sounds good, much like the breakdown to “Storm Within.” But, when it’s not, such as during “Reawakening,” it can lose that heavier trait and become somewhat empty. The vocals are the traditional deeper shouting that matches the tone of the recording well, and while not that largely ranged, there’s enough variety, as well as alterations in distance and volume to keep them fresh throughout. However, the drumming is what really hurts Icarus. The snares sound great for the most part, having a vibrant array of booming and tight pieces captured from the kit, and the bass kicks hold a very strong click that sticks out without becoming too much. However, the cymbals are rather loud in the mix, as well as horribly washed out, something you can pick up on with certain snares from time to time. Unfortunately, the music can’t really mask them, and the second “Hubris” kicks in with it’s slow marching theme, the compression issues become blatantly obvious. Unless you can look past them, they will easily hold you back from enjoying this effort as much as you rightly should.

Thankfully, Icarus does feature some solid material that does help to distract your attention from the cymbals, and have you concentrate on the bigger picture. “Hubris” really does establish more than the faults of the release well. The victorious, yet rather gloom music and atmosphere is something Dew-Scented plays on throughout the release. While this does make the listener want to stick around, many songs do end up sounding somewhat similar. As you progress, you’ll find songs like “Thrown to the Lions” and “The Fall of Man” being familiar territory in performance and the general style, but with enough differences in the foundation to create two different experiences, such as the latter having plenty of pounding snare-driven moments that easily will have the listener’s head banging along to the beat, though these passages are rather short, as well as limited. The energy here is about the same as “Thrown to the Lions” as well, which makes them all the more enjoyable. “Sworn to Obey” finds a stronger Death Metal push than those two, which have plenty of Thrash intensity in the riffs, but don’t quite whip you into a frenzy like this song. The bridges are infectious as they lead into some short-lived blasting segments and attitude, though the chorus does find the aforementioned pounding moments at play a role again, similar to something you might hear from At the Gates with “Blinded by Fear,” as well as an impressive guitar solo that ushers in that depressing overtone which “Hubris” set up, expanding on it for a short time before plunging right back into the pummeling Death and Thrash fueled onslaught once more.

“Storm Within” sticks out almost immediately. The song has a slight guitar build for a few seconds before the drums hammer away at a slower pace, but really dominate the rhythm in a manner that will instinctively have you banging your head along. This foundation sticks around throughout the rest, and even introduces a slight Egyptian or Middle Eastern style bridge that amps up the stress nicely before hammering back into the chorus a second time. The energy is palpable once again, and you can really feel it in the vocals, especially when reaching much deeper levels that don’t quite come through on other tracks. Even the breakdown, and what leads up to it, will immediately grab anyone within listening distance. There’s also “Reawakening,” which doesn’t quite put the band’s best foot forward when it comes to unique or different material. The track finds a heavy focus on the drums at a good mid-tempo, largely the bass kicks, and the guitars have a sharper sound to them that comes off a bit weaker as they chime in with simpler chords. Here and there the bass plays a few notes between them, but does have a better role later on. This is how the main verses are handled, whereas the chorus, solo, and some important bridges have a thicker, strong sound with all instruments pushing chords of more than a few easy notes, as well as find the sound going back to a lower tone. Overall, it ends up coming off a bit hollow, and far from impressive despite what the band is trying to accomplish being so obvious. It’s clear there was an atmosphere intended to be found here, but it’s lost in the higher pitches, coming off more like a rather poor Slayer tribute. “A Final Procession” finds the band doing this concept a little stronger, though not quite as eccentric, and far from a cut and paste concept. The bass really does sound a lot stronger, and that sharper distortion is largely non-existant, making this mid to slower paced track an infectious one.

Overall, there really isn’t much to be said about Icarus. There’s plenty of good songs on here, and a few that take advantage of the atmosphere and energy. The only song that will truly let you down is “Reawakening,” and that’s due to the sharper distortion used, and the minimal bass presence that seems to be at a much lower volume. other than that, this is a great representation of what Dew-Scented is. However, there’s the issue with the production quality. The washed out cymbals are horrible, as well as some spots when it seems to impact the snares. This is easily one of the finest hours, especially in recent years, however these faults in the audio simply hold it back, which is a terrible shame. Icarus is a recording that fans are simply going to love, as it definitely doesn’t fail to deliver on their expectations. It even has the potential to win over some new listeners, as this is a great jumping on point for anyone interested in what the band is capable of. But, fan or not, if you can’t look past its faults, this will be an album you will only be able to take in small doses.

01. Hubris – 1:34
02. Sworn to Obey – 4:05
03. Thrown to the Lions – 4:40
04. Storm Within – 4:17
05. Gleaming Like Silver – 4:00
06. By My Own Hand – 3:51
07. The Fall of Man – 4:14
08. Reawakening – 4:47
09. Destined to Collapse – 4:52
10. A Final Procession – 4:54
11. Perpetuated – 3:23
Overall Score: 7.5/10
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Digital review copy of this release provided by Prosthetic Records.