Review: The Icarus Line – ‘Slave Vows’

Slave Vows coverIt’s no secret The Icarus Line are hard to deal with. Ever since they came punching their way through LA’s alternative underground in the late 90s the band have been firmly establishing themselves as the enfant terrible of the scene. Under the command of frontman Joe Cardamone, The Icarus Line have blazed a trail in the music industry, burnishing their unique brand of electro-shock blues and confrontational rock ‘n’ roll, under their own terms, and this has never been made so apparent as on Slave Vows.

Recorded at breakneck speed (the album was written and recorded over the course of just a few months), Slave Vows begins as it means to go on. Opener ‘Dark Circles’ draws you in with its menacing, elongated intro of rampant noise. The tribal rhythms suck you down into circles of hyper distorted guitars before breaking into dirty, measured blues, Cardamone’s  vocals rising from the ashes like the ghost of Jim Morrison on Oxycontin. To say this track is a statement of intent would be an understatement. It encapsulates the essence of what Slave Vows is about. Gloriously confrontational and emphatically uncompromising.

As the album continues through an onslaught of tracks like ‘Don’t Let Me Save Your Soul’ and stand-out ‘Marathon Man’ it becomes clear that, in exposing themselves to that intense recording process, The Icarus Line have created a rawness of magnitude on this record. The pacing is viscous, sometimes sliding slowly towards you like a lava flow, and sometimes rapid, like a tsunami, unstoppable in its momentum.

The tracks ‘No Money Music’ and ‘Laying Down For The Man’ call to mind the brash confidence and progressive sound of the band’s earlier material found on the likes of Red And Black Attack, but that’s not to say they have reverted. The more raucous tracks on Slave Vows handle their intensity with more control, leading to a maturity of sound. Cardamone’s lyrics tell of being broke and reflect on a nomadic existence, sometimes self-imposed, sometimes not. Because of this, the album seems to speak more broadly of what it’s like to be immersed in the fragile social and economic times currently being experienced in America (and the rest of the world) today. But, true to form, Cardamone never laments about it, he simply wants to break out of his cage and bite his keeper on the ass.

Slave Vows is eight tracks of uncompromising energy. With this album, The Icarus Line have managed to distill the vigour and intensity of their younger selves whilst simultaneously breaking new ground. Just be prepared for some of this new ground to be your speakers.

Slave Vows is out 22 July on Agitated Records.

We interviewed Joe Cardamone about making Slave Vows (and lots of other stuff). Read it HERE.

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