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Ice Age (USA) - 1999 - "The Great Divide"
(75 min, "Magna Carta")


****+

Tracklist:

1. Perpetual Child 10:29

2. Sleepwalker 5:24

3. Join 5:55

4. Spare Chicken Parts (inst.) 8:50

5. Because of You 5:32

6. The Bottom Line 4:44

7. Ice Age 11:08

8. One Look Away 5:40

9. Miles to Go 5:01

10. To Say Goodbye:

a) Worthless Words (inst.) 3:13

b) On Out Way 8:18



Line-up: 

Jimmy Pappas - guitars

Josh Pinkus - vocals, keyboards

Arron DeCesare - bass

Hal Aponte - drums & percussion



All music written & arranged by Ice Age.

All lyrics by Josh Pinkus.

Produced, engineered & mixed

by Jimmy Pappas in "The Caves of Ice", NY, USA. 

Prologue. Thierry Sportouche, the editor of the French "Acid Dragon" magazine, sent me this CD especially for my review, as I am one of the five reviewers for Acid Dragon. Until now, I wasn't acquainted with the creation of Ice Age. Also, it seems that this was another international band to come out from the USA (like Dream Theater), according to the last names of the band members. To me, that's always good.

The Album. After I've listened to the album's opening track I thought: "Well, these guys are just another imitator of Dream Theater". Really, Perpetual Child, - both instrumentally and vocally, - can remind you any of just a few of the excellent songs, that feature the worst Dream Theater album "Falling Into Infinity". You can ask me, why do I compare Perpetual Child to the best songs from the most accessible album of Dream Theater. It is because the composing and performing capabilities of the young musicians of Ice Age (I was never saying "of the young musicians of the Ice Age") on this (let it be kind of a) tribute to Dream Theater aren't as good as the Dreamers exhibit on all of their other albums, with the exception of "Falling Into Infinity". Fortunately, a line of the great divide lies between the first and second tracks, and the music by the band Ice Age sounds beginning with Sleepwalker and up to the last note of the album: the music, just slightly influenced by Dream Theater, is rather original on the whole. While Perpetual Child is mostly quite a 'heavy' song, there is no heaviness at all on the ballad One Look Away (track 8). This is a real Prog ballad, despite the fact that there are more of vocal parts than instrumental ones in its musical palette. While Josh Pinkus is a tasteful and diverse singer, the main thing is, the instrumental arrangements develop not only in separate parts, but along with vocals too (which is typical only for the performers of any of the Classic Prog genres, but not of the Neo's). By the way, all of the words of the latter sentence are suitable for all of the album's songs in general, though structurally, all the remaining compositions represent a blend consisting of the two thirds of Classic Prog Metal and one third of Classic Art Rock (along with some spacey fields, though, created by fluid guitar solos). These are the songs that are filled with the most diverse instrumental and vocal arrangements, frequent changes of themes, tempos and moods, masterful solos and passages of electric and semi-acoustic guitars and varied keyboards (including piano, sometimes), and interplay between these main soloing instruments as well: Sleepwalker, Because of You, The Bottom Line, Ice Age, Miles to Go, and To Say Goodbye (tracks 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, & 10), though the latter song, including a wonderful instrumental intro, and The Bottom Line are especially impressive. The most interesting composition of "The Great Divide" I, however, regard the instrumental Spare Chicken Parts (track 4), which is not only full of complex and diverse arrangements: there is also a very colourful Eastern 'atmosphere' created by the solos and duets of guitar and keyboards. Whereas Join and Because of You (tracks 3 & 5) are the less intriguing songs of the album.

Summary. While the musicianship of each of the band members as well as their joint performance are, on the whole, excellent throughout the album, I especially liked the (rough-to-operatic) vocals of Josh Pinkus (excluding his singing on the first track, of course), who, in addition, and plays the keyboards very good and effectively. Thanks to his vocals, especially rough, Ice Age sounds rather original even then when Jimmy Pappas' (tasteful and diverse on the whole) riffing moves slightly remind me of John Petrucci's manner of playing the same style. I can't say that "The Great Divide" is a great album; but, in the least, this is a very good album. As for Ice Age themselves, having enough of their own ideas with regard to composing the music, apart from using some of Prog Metal's 'traditional' cliches, they look at least like the true followers of Dream Theater, but not like (a lot of) poor imitators of the idols of contemporary Prog-Metal.

VM. November 23, 2001


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