ICE AGE – “Waves of Loss and Power”

By Colonel Angus

It has been quite some time that I have heard the name ICE AGE spoken in my group of prog metal fans.  I ran across them many years ago when I was soaking up anything on the Magna Carta Records label.  When I first heard “The Great Divide”, I thought that they were a band that was going to go places and hit the prog world by storm the same way DREAM THEATER did years earlier.  Then came “Liberation” and I could see the progression (no pun intended) and felt it was an even stronger release.  Then radio silence except for a short E.P. in 2004.  I had all but given up on ICE AGE and felt that I would just have to enjoy the two records they released.  

Well, fast forward almost two decades and lo and behold, we get a new ICE AGE album.  I have to say that I was scared and excited at the same time when I was given this disk to review because there has been quite some time between releases that I didn’t know if the magic was still there.  The line-up is the same as the one that recorded the E.P. so, I thought, that is a good sign.  But almost twenty years have passed since any new material was put forth so I can be forgiven for thinking that musical attitudes and styles within the band may have changed to the point that it would not be the same.  Luckily, my fears would be quickly dispelled after opening track “The Needle’s Eye”.  The album starts off with that heavy KANSAS  (the band, not the state) sound along with a good helping of ENCHANT.  That comparison is not to say that ICE AGE are copycats but more to give you a feeling of the musical direction the band will take the listener on.  There are elements of DREAM THEATER thrown in as well but all of these influences create ICE AGE’s sound into something unique.  

The second track “Riverflow” has a little bit of a heavy TOTO sound with vocals that remind me of Dennis DeYoung from STYX.  That track also contains some great guitar work courtesy of Jimmy Pappas.  He does a great job throughout the whole record but I especially like the solo in “Riverflow”.  For those of you familiar with the band’s pervious work will be familiar with “Perpetual Child” which happen to be the first song on their first record.  Here, they continue the track with “Perpetual Child, Part III: Forever” which to me has a similar vibe as “At Death’s Door” by ENCHANT.   Josh Pinkus has really maintained his vocal ability and he sounds just as great as he did on that first album.  In fact, I would add that the production of “Waves of Loss and Power” highlights his vocals and makes them really stand out.  “Together Now” is nice prog metal tune that moves from softer moments to more hard-edged riffing giving the track a nice light and shade feel.  Pappas again throws in a great solo that lifts the song even higher.  The next two songs are more straight forward and could be considered the mainstream “hit single” parts of the disk.  Not that these guys write formula music but it has more of that concise radio friendly element to them.  The record ends with Parts IV and V of “To Say Goodbye” which was started on “The Great Divide” and “Liberation” records.  “To Say Goodbye, Part IV: Remembrance” is a short piano piece that leads into “To Say Goodbye, Part V: Water Child” that is the second epic track on “Waves of Loss and Power”.  Again, the KANSAS and ENCHANT influences are present but they take so many twists and turns throughout this fourteen minute tune that they mold it into something completely their own. 

The band that recorded “Waves of Loss and Power” is the same that released the E.P. so we still get Hal Aponte on drums and Doug Odell on bass along with the two the members mentioned earlier.  The material is just as great as their previous releases and it’s as if the last two decades didn’t happen.  The biggest item that makes this one stand out to me is the production.  While their other albums sound good, this one just seems to have a brighter production that makes each instrument (and vocal) really stand out.  “Waves of Loss and Power” is a welcome return from ICE AGE and I should not have doubted their ability to still churn out some great prog metal.  Although, I can’t take all the blame because it was almost twenty years since they last put forth some tunes.  I hope this one lands the guys on the top of the prog metal heap ‘cause they deserve it.