Ice War
Defender, Destroyer
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Redemption can come in a lot of different forms. Maybe it’s a worker who was overlooked for a much-deserved promotion, who leaves goes on to find a better job in a better environment. Maybe it’s the closer who gave a up a game-winning home run to a bitter rival during the regular season, only to strike the same guy out in the playoffs to end a series. For me, redemption usually comes in the form of landing a giant bass or pike after a day of near-misses, snapped lines and lost lures, or finally beating my wife at the wonderfully addicting and frustrating Sushi Go! after losing 6 straight games. I don’t care if it’s a child’s game DON’T JUDGE ME.

For Jo Capitalicide however, Ice War has to be a whole different kind of redemption, the kind that can only come from someone who, very quickly, had his livelihood threatened and reputation run through the mud.

In 2017, Capitalicide, then (and still) guitarist for fun Ottawa punkers Zex (made famous by accidently having their music pressed into a number of special edition releases of Beyonce’s Lemonade LP), got caught in the middle of a messy scandal with the band’s label, the now-defunct Magic Bullet Records, who claimed they received emails accusing him of sexual abuse. The band was dropped from their label as a result.  Long story short (and apologies if I’m missing any details), Capitalcide denied the accusations, never faced any charges for anything, and the label ultimately reversed course and retracted the allegations altogether. Like I said, messy!

Anyway, Zex persevered, but Jo also took the opportunity perhaps to tap into the darker, more pissed off emotions I’m sure the whole experience conjured, and unleashed those frustrations through solo project Ice War – and new album Defender, Destroyer 10 tracks of sneering, spit-in-your-face Speed Metal seething with the kind of middle-fingers-raised, pumped-chest attitude that would please both Lemmy and Lee Ving alike.

Riding a full-throttled, punk-forward assault that lies somewhere between Dark Angel, the crustier sounds of Disrupt, and the Dead Kennedys on steroids, Jo Capitalicide minces no words and gets right down to business. Opener “Power From Within” begins with a soaring, epic intro that gives off an unexpected power metal vibe, before strapping on the bullet belts and diving into a speedy, early Motorhead-inspired riff built to bang heads and push pits. The song also sets the tone for really inspired,  upbeat choruses found all over the album that leave a distinct impression that Capitalicide is feeling invigorated and empowered through his experiences, an attitude that seeps into every nook and cranny of this record.

There’s a nice balance of influences here, too. There’s a good, heavy dose of Kill ‘Em All Metallica on tracks like “Skull and Crossbones” and “Crucified in Fire” that carry that classic, clean speed metal tone – whereas numbers like the totally righteous title track “Defender, Destroyer,” “Rising From The Tomb” and “Running Out of Time” fall more in line with other modern, throwback (lol what?) speed metal acts with like Bütcher or Hellripper. Capitalicide isn’t afraid of indulging his punk roots, either – “Demonoid” especially has a very Earth A.D. Misfits quality to it, while “Soldiers of Frost” and a number of other tracks aren’t shy with their liberal use of “WOAH-OH-OHs.” It adds a distinctive and fun flavor to the whole album.

Things even slow down a tick on a couple of tracks to break up the full-on assault. Midway through, “Mountains of Skulls” takes a breather with some nice little galloping riffs and double bass triplets, carrying a little bit of a NWOBHM-like vibe while still carrying those early-era speed metal roots. Closer “Breakaway” starts with one of the albums most unique, dark and moody riffs that I kinda wish Capitalicide built off of a little more, but instead breaks back into the breakneck speed found through most of the record. It’s by no means a bad song, the opening minute is just really cool.

Ice War is doing a nice job of blending Speed Metal aggression with a gruff, Punk attitude that most certainly helps to set the project apart from so many bands doing this kind of thing nowadays. Defender, Destroyer is a super fun album that would find a happy home in headbangers’ and punks’ hearts alike, and it’s another nice little feather in the cap of Fighter Records’ fun and surprising lineup of quality artists.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
September 10th, 2020

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