If it seems we haven't heard from the members of Icarus Witch much lately, I think they can be excused -- it's been a busy year since their last record came out. Instead of playing the neighborhood bar every Friday night, the Pittsburgh-based classic metal band has been, oh, playing German festivals with Metal Church, opening for Yngwie Malmsteen, getting the gear ripped off in Chicago ... and recording another scorcher of a full-length, Songs for the Lost, coming out on Sept. 11.
The new album kicks off with the no-bullshit rocker "Out for Blood," three minutes of arena adrenaline in the same vein as the band's previous single, "Capture the Magic" (which, a year later, I still hear in my head). It's an instant reminder of what's awesome about this band, which otherwise could be an exercise in metallic nostalgia: tight, rock-oriented songwriting, and vocalist Matthew Bizilia.
Bizilia's vocals resemble a blend of Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio, with a bit more nuance than either usually indulges. There's an exciting timbre, even when he's dishing out the hard-rock clichés in the album's final track, the Zeppelin ballad-style "Smoke & Mirrors": "Draw the curtains of illusion / Let the mist cloud their sights / Hide behind the smoke and mirrors / As you slip into the night." Whatever -- it gets you pumped.
Like the last release, the disc includes special guests -- Joe Lynn Turner (of Rainbow, Deep Purple, Malmsteen) sings on a cover of Def Leppard's "Mirror Mirror" -- and was produced by Pro-Pain's Eric Klinger, who sits in on drums this time around. The twin guitars of Quinn Lucas and Steve Pollick intertwine in high-speed harmony, and as ever, the influence of Ozzy is never far off ... from the portal of confusion or something.
What is a little different this time around is the band's business end. Where Capture the Magic came out on Cleopatra's imprint Magick Records (run, conveniently enough, by Witch bassist Jason Myers), the new disc has been moved up to the larger Cleopatra label, distributed through mega-indie KOCH. In Europe, it set to be released on Cruz Del Sur Music.
In all, if you liked Capture the Magic, you'll find Songs for the Lost a sure-footed and energetic follow-up. And if you like Rainbow, Ozzy, Priest -- classic, melodic metal in general -- much triumph and righteousness await ye with Icarus Witch. This band rocks.
Icarus Witch CD release with Dofka. 6 p.m. (doors open). Fri., Sept. 7. Diesel, 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. $10 ($12 day of show). All ages. 412-431-8800 or www.liveatdiesel.com