ICS VORTEX – Storm Seeker
Coming at this solo project ICS Vortex from a different angle than most (not having been an ardent Borknagar follower), I’m unfamiliar with a lot of the previous black metal landscape the musicians stride in. The rhythm section of drummer Asgeir Mickelson and bassist Steinar Gundersen for instance are well known to me for their technical progressive metal efforts in Spiral Architect moreso than anything in Sarke or Satyricon. Guitarist Terje Andersen gains minor attention from his Susperia work as well through the years. So my thoughts will concentrate on the album in front of me “Storm Seeker” and less on the overall body of work ICS Vortex has done with Dimmu Borgir the last 10 years or any of the other bands he’s played with through his lifetime.
“Storm Seeker” rolls through a mixture of stoner rock, 70’s progressive music and a touch of pagan folk metal along with flashes of black metal intensity over the course of these 11 songs and 45 minutes. The furious folk meets progressive guitar flourishes propel “Odin’s Tree” into one of the highlights immediately, as Simen Hestnæs aka ICS Vortex matches up well with his cleaner, almost bard-like melodic range. “Dogsmacked” combines the brilliance of stoner rock with the progressive insights an act like Slough Feg have brought to the table for years. Terje keeps the singular, memorable Adrian Smith-like guitar lines at the forefront of the main riffs and instrumental sections for “Aces”. The haunting, repetitive words within the slower but still groove worthy “Flaskeskipper” can be word pictures that flood your dreams, and illustrate ICS Vortex’s love it or leave it melodies.
The creativity and ambitious nature of “Storm Seeker” is commendable. I definitely found myself tapping my feet and shaking my head to a majority of the music on offer. I believe surrounding himself with a trio of fine musicians makes the songwriting and performances that much stronger. This record should appeal to those who like the outside fringe elements and applaud risk taking measures.