It is hard to know how long the members of ICOSA have been playing, nurturing their skills and invention but it is fair to say that band, and debut EP The Skies Are Ours leaves the majority of releases and certainly first encounters this year in the shade. The four track release is a fascinating and exhilarating slab of mature invention and startling imagination brought with a technical craft and instinctive adventure which leaves you grinning and basking greedily. It maybe just one release but it is impossible not to suggest that this is the awakening of one potentially important force for British and dare we say world music. Casting a web of progressive metal and heavy rock, a description which still only gives half the picture, the London trio has made a big statement with their first release and set the benchmark very high for them and UK progressive metal.
Formed in 2011, ICOSA consists of vocalist and 8 string guitarist Tom Tattersall, 7 string guitarist Stacey Douglas, and drummer Jack Ashley. Drawing on the inspirations of bands such as Tool, Meshuggah, and SiKth, the band has been stirring up a bit of a buzz around them and now having been seduced by their EP it is very easy to see why. Their sound sits somewhere amidst Between The Buried And Me/ TesseracT and KingBathmat/ King Crimson whilst infusing a wider diversity in its body for an openly distinct presence. It is a riveting weave which seduces and rages, commands and demands within The Skies Are Ours to inescapably bind ears and imagination.
ICOSA open up the release with Ermangulatr. Its initial shimmering touch is gentle, almost spatial in breath as it slowly entangles thoughts and senses. Guitars soon add additional intrigue before expelling a heavier intensive climate with sonic veining which mesmerises as it scorches aligned to a Meshuggah like predation. It is a powerful lure which only increases as it welcomes the excellent vocals of Tattershall, his tones another tempering flame against the brewing ferocity of intent and invention. As it expands and explores, the track continues to twist and turn with inescapable hooks, fluid grooves, and simply a web of compelling ideation and craft. Reminders of The Ocean, Opeth, and The Mars Volta flirt with thoughts across the song but with its striking creative emprise, the track and ultimately release is impossible to truly pin down.
The two part title track is next, Part 1 instantly teasing senses with coarse but ridiculously enticing melodies within agitated rhythms and an equally frenetic narrative of riffs and invention. There is rapacious rabidity to the track and its dramatic landscape but just as potently a fury of seduction which drives every warped twist and idea as well as every melodic spearing and ingenious coaxing. At times listening to the track you feel like you are on a roller coaster ride through a vast ever shifting landscape of unpredictable dangers and beauty whilst in other moments you get the feeling of a dogfight in the air between dark and light protagonists, each spinning their individual traps as they tussle gleefully. The closing sun of melodic elegance glides the listener imperiously into Part 2 and its almost celebratory beginning where rhythms and guitars romp with ideas and endeavour whilst the vocals find an additional snarl to enrich the elevated revelry. The track simply enslaves and intrigues; its merger of metal and rock into a distinctly individual and transfixing voracious blaze of invention and imagination, ridiculously impressive and thrilling. It is all so seamless and fluid that you just get lost in the sheer beauty of the persistently shifting mystery and adventure so that at times the real world is just not there.
The EP is completed by Trepidation, a welcome trespass into the passions with bulky jagged riffs, cascading sultry melodies, and bordering on psychotic invention honed into a contagious stride of devilish imagination and just as sinisterly attractive and skilled ingenuity in songwriting and presentation. It is an outrageously brilliant end to a similarly potent and masterful release. ICOSA is already a major player in metal, it is just that we and the metal world did not realise until now through their debut. As The Skies Are Ours lets its last notes tease and thrill there is room for one more thought, something this good and genius just has to have the Devil’s backing.
The Skies Are Ours EP is available digitally as a name your price download and on CD now @ http://icosa.bandcamp.com/releases
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