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Firon , 6/10
Hephaestus , 7.5/10
Poetry Of Fire , 6.5/10
Meditavolutions , 7/10
Polar Bear Suite , 6.5/10
Power Of The Lion , 6/10
Ample Fire Within (2008), 6/10

Utah's Iceburn fused the languages of progressive-rock, jazz, metal and harcore on Firon (1992) and on the monumental Hephaestus (1993). The latter's brainy jams opened a number of stylistic avenues that the band would take a decade to fully explore. Poetry Of Fire (1995) introduced elements of classical music and atonal avantgarde, not to mention Indian ragas, while veering towards the loose structures of free-jazz, a metamorphosis that continued on Iceburn Collective's Meditavolutions (1996), featuring the suite Sphinx, one of their most terrible and accomplished works, and was completed with the three lengthy group improvisations of Polar Bear Suite (1997).
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Gli Iceburn sono uno dei progetti piu` avventurosi della musica rock degli anni '90. La loro musica, inizialmente nel genere "skate-metal", e` un genere di progressive-rock che fonde jazz, metal e harcore.

Gli Iceburn vennero formati a Salt Lake City (Utah) dal chitarrista Gentry Densley. Il loro primo album, Firon (Victory, 1992), propone un crossover audace di heavy-metal, hardcore, jazz e progressive-rock nel quale si odono echi tanto di Bad Brains quanto di Last Exit, tanto di Voivod quanto di Living Color (Poem Of Fire). Tracks: Burn II, Irish Jig, Fall, Soulstice, Winter, 64246, Burn I, Odd, Drop, Guts, Poem of Fire .

Il successivo e monumentale Hephaestus (Revelation, 1993) perfeziona la formula attraverso ventotto frammenti cerebrali. guida le jam lambiccate di Caravan e Whirlpool con finezze chitarristiche al limite dell'avanguardia La sezione ritmica di Cache Tolman (basso) e Joseph Chad Smith (batteria) non lesina spunti jazz. Il canto biascicato di Densley contribuisce a castrare in pratica le potenzialita` "dure" di I e Wall. Parvenze di riff convenzionali reggono soltanto in Only e soprattutto Swatter, degna del miglior grunge. Molti dei brani sono dei semplici spunti a seguire, spesso su intuizioni geniali (l'assolo psichedelico di Deconstruction, il liquido jazzrock di Swatted). Raramente un album di heavymetal ha cercato di essere cosi' colto e raffinato.

Poetry Of Fire (Revelation, 1995), with second guitarist James Holder and saxophonist Greg Nielsen and the usual rhythm section of Cache Tolman on bass and Joseph Chad Smith), further refined Gentry Densley's hyper-fusion of free jazz, classical music, progressive-rock, atonal avantgarde, heavy-metal and Indian ragas. A sort of summary for beginners is provided by the instrumental Poetry Of Fire (16 minutes): fibrillating psychedelic drones, martial tempos, dark hard-rock riffs, dub-like beats, free-jazz horn improvisation, Frank Zappa-ian cartoonish fanfares and King Crimson-ian convoluted counterpoint are blended in a smooth and free-flowing continuum. The whole sounds like a jazzier version of Djam Karet or a deconstructed Colosseum suite. Stones (14 minutes) is a subtler exercise in restrained interplay, reminiscent of Cream and Blue Cheer. The undercurrents of Blues (nine minutes) further unravel the sound, placing a rambling guitar against a decomposing rhythm and a nocturnal sax. Discolor (14 minutes) is also bluesy, but the saxophone takes the lead, and its delirious acrobatics humble the guitar.

Meditavolutions (Revelation, 1996), credited to Iceburn Collective, (Gentry Densley on guitar and sitar, Greg Nielsen on tenor sax, James Holder on guitar, Doug Wright on bass, Randy Herbert on percussion, Daniel Day on drums), is the band's second masterpiece, an album in which their sources and their original ideas are blended into a personal style of terrific power, supreme geometries are warped by devastating emotions and life springs from amorphous magma.
The icy and terrible ouverture, Trills And Cones, pays the band's debt to King Crimson, both the original romantic bards and the latter, brainy avant/improv unit. After a blast of white noise (Revolution II), their heavy-metal roots come out in the operatic hymn Vision (the only track with vocals).
The album's centerpiece is the 22-minute suite Sphinx. From the very first notes, when an Hendrix-ian guitar with a middle-eastern accent engages the horns in a dissonant fanfare, it is not clear who are the protagonists. The instruments take turns in uttering dischordant phrases. Sudden bursts of collective noise are quickly sedated by long phases of directionless drifting. The playing is more about dissecting the parts than about creating a whole.
Objects is even less organic. Lacking any trace of jazz, one can't even call it "free jazz". It is "free music" that takes very little for granted.
But jazz does permeate the 14-minute jam History, a better structured jelly that revolves around the saxophone's skeletal solos and is mainly a showcase for each musician's technical prowess.
After another blast of white noise (Revolution III), the album is closed by an atonal reprise of Trills And Cones.
The playing is as self-indulgent as progressive-rock can be, but the overall effect is certainly powerful and fierceful.

Their avant-rock style gets another injection of jazz from the three lengthy group improvisations of Polar Bear Suite (Revelation, 1997). The band (completely redesigned, except for Densley, Wright and Day) is now a small orchestra, and the relationship to rock and roll remains vague at best. Solarity, a 20-minute jam, displays a band that has left behind the brooding, pensive Meditavolutions. Seven minutes into the track, the musicians charge with unusual fervor, and four minutes later the instruments lock in superb counterpoint. These are musicians who are not only interested in displaying their own style, but also in taking issue with the style of the others.
On the other hand, the 23-minute monolith of Polarity ranks as one of their most abstract performances, and Aurora Boreality presents itself as a subliminal sequence of sounds rather than an organized unit. They are probably the most accomplished pieces on the album. Polarity's eloquence is unmatched in Iceburn's career, and Aurora Boreality coins a new form of atonal composition, one that has many facets and virtually no ending.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Claudio Vespignani)

Poetry of fire (Revelation 1995), con il secondo chitarrista James Holder e il sassofonista Greg Nielsen, raffina ulteriormente l’iperfusione di Gentry Densley di free jazz, musica classica, rock progressivo, avanguardia atonale e raga indiano.

Meditavolutions (Revelation 1996), accreditato agli Iceburn Collective, e’ il secondo capolavoro del complesso, un disco in cui le loro fonti e le loro idee sono miscelate in uno stile personale dal potere terrificante. Supreme geometrie vengono deformate da emozioni devastanti e forme di vita sgorgano da questo magma sonoro.

Il loro rock d’avanguardia subisce un ulteriore iniezione di jazz nella lunga improvvisazione di gruppo di Polar bear suite (Revelation 1997). Il complesso e’ diventato una piccola orchestra e la parentela con l’hard rock non e’ mai stata cosi’ vaga.

Two electric guitars, two stand-up basses and drums recorded the seven pieces that make up Power Of The Lion (Iceburn, 1998). Those pieces are intended not as finished goods but as components to be superimposed at will, according to a principle derived from Quantum Mechanics.

The mini-album Land of Wind and Ghosts (The Mountain Collective for Independent Artists, 2002) was recorded live by a line-up of two guitars, saxophone and percussion.

Gentry Densley of Iceburn and Greg Anderson of Sunn O))) formed Ascend and released Ample Fire Within (Southern Lord, 2008), that sounds like an experiment in orchestral drones, adding instruments such as trombone, piano, the human voice and additional guitars to shape monolithic trips such as Ample Fire Within, VOG and Dark Matter.

Densley went on to form Eagle Twin that debuted with The Unkindness of Crows (Southern Lord, 2009), a return to the heavy progressive sound of Iceburn, although some songs betray the influence of Sunn's and Earth's school of doom.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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