posted on 8/2011 By:
Simen Hestnæs, also known as ICS Vortex, has achieved metal notoriety through his work with Arcturus, Borknagar, and of course, Dimmu Borgir. His abilities have always been apparent, and his recent discharge from Dimmu has allowed him the freedom to complete his first solo album, Storm Seeker. Is it what listeners of the aforementioned bands would expect? Absolutely not, unless one was expecting to hear diverse and genre-bending compositions, with a frenzy of competing ideas and textures. Storm Seeker is more of an experiment than a consistent effort, and falls more into the realm of progressive/psychedelic rock than metal. That being said, ICS Vortex has quite a bit to offer the more eclectic listener, and those who can put their preconceived notions aside will likely appreciate, if not enjoy, this record.
Those seeking a black metal album should listen to the first two tracks (“The Blackmobile” and “Odin’s Tree”) before carrying on with their lives. The rest of Storm Seeker would sorely disappoint, and there’s a chance that even those initial tracks would dissatisfy. This is not to say that the material is lacking, but it simply does not fit the “black metal” classification as neatly as some might have hoped. ICS Vortex uses his unique style of high clean vocals throughout the entire album, and there’s not a black metal rasp to be found.
Storm Seeker is not particularly accessible, but it’s sure as hell interesting. The textures created by the unconventional instrumentation are daring and distinctive, to say the least. The album treads into folk metal territory on “Skoal!”, even including mouth harp in the beginning of the track, and there’s Seventies prog-inspired organ swirling through a few of the tunes. “ ICS Vortex may alienate a listener or two with his schizophrenic treatment of genre and theme, but given enough time, the eleven tracks will grow on you. Vortex’s vocals are in fine form, and this is an album to showcase that. As a result, his voice is a smidge high in the mix, and can be a bit of an uncomfortable listening experience when juxtaposed with the rest of the production.
ICS Vortex is fantastically creative, and the songwriting and atmosphere reflects this. However, his imagination often translates in a disjointed manner. Nevertheless, Storm Seeker is a fun and frenetic album, and will surely gain a loyal following. It’s not for the faint of heart, or those resistant to the investigational side of music, but my fondness for the record increases with each trek through the material.
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