Ice Ages | Vibe of Scorn (review)

Ice Ages 'Vibe of Scorn' cover artwork

Ice Ages ‘Vibe of Scorn’ cover artwork

Vibe of Scorn is the most recent album from Ice Ages, released digitally on July 5 and with a CD release on August 20. Ice Ages can be considered the ‘EBM’ project of Austrian musician Richard Lederer, whose other projects include the Tolkien-themed black metal band Summoning and the darkwave/neo-classical project Die Verbannten Kinder Evas.

Although Ice Ages does have a number of earlier records (see their discography here) it is clear that Summoning has always been Lederer’s main project, and I feel some more background on that project is relevant.

Summoning formed in 1993 in Austria during the ‘second wave’ of black metal, parallel to the well-known inter-band rivalries, church arsons, murders and general chaos associated with the Norwegian scene, most notably the well-documented feud between Varg Vikernes (Burzum) and Euronymous (Mayhem).

Summoning is considered one of the earliest Austrian black metal bands, and with a clean slate they decided to create their own imprint on the scene, focusing mostly on J.R.R. Tolkien’s works and those of other fantasy authors. Although the early albums have a more traditional ‘raw’ sound, their later albums made use of keyboards, synthetic orchestral sounds and programmed drums. The band has never played live, a decision which makes even more sense considering the band’s increasing reliance on electronic elements.

In 2014 Summoning was persuaded to make known their long-held anti-fascist beliefs after many of their songs had been hijacked in the creation of Nazi-themed videos. Vice Magazine conducted an interview in 2018 in which the band details their background and political beliefs; the interview is well worth reading and can be found here.

The reason I mention the background of Summoning is that I feel it gives a better idea of what to expect from Ice Ages. Ice Ages does not belong to the “EBM” scene, nor does it really have a place in the broader “Gothic” scene. Rather, I view Ice Ages, along with the Die Verbannten Kinder Evas project, as more of a creative outlet for Lederer to pursue music that would not fit under the umbrella of a Summoning recording.

From the first track on Vibe of Scorn, ‘Tragic Potion’, Ice Ages sets a template for the album – mid-paced, methodical, brooding. The vocals are unique; the closest comparison I could make is perhaps Peter Spilles of Project Pitchfork but with more processing. The lyrics are thoughtful and complex There is a strong emphasis on drums and percussion, another indication of the artist having played in a traditional rock band.

Another way in which I feel Ice Ages songs draw their inspiration from black metal is their length. Each song on Vibe of Scorn comes in at over seven minutes in length, which is atypical for most songs in the typical “EBM” framework. Despite the lengthy average track length, the songs do not become repetitive or tiresome. Rather, the listener is taken on a musical journey with each song.

What the listener is left with is a highly personal take on the EBM genre, one that grows on you with each listen. My main critique would be that the songs do tend to become repetitive. The songs seem to have a very similar structure that becomes apparent as the album progresses. Likewise, I feel the album could benefit from more varied instrumentation. Even Lederer’s vocals, which are appealing and unique, could benefit from an occasional outside collaborator.

Overall, I am very pleased to have found Ice Ages and I look forward to exploring their earlier albums in more depth. And perhaps we will be hearing from Ice Ages again in the not-so-distant future. After all, their previous album Nullify was released just two years earlier, in 2019.

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