ICS Vortex

Picture of ICS Vortex

Storm Seeker

ICS Vortex - Storm Seeker ©2011 Century Media
1. The Blackmobile
2. Odin's Tree
3. Skoal!
4. Dogsmacked
5. Aces
6. Windward
7. When Shuffled Off
8. Oil In Water
9. Storm Seeker
10. Flaskeskipper
11. The Sub Mariner

Most metal fans know of Simen Hestnęs (a.k.a. ICS Vortex) in his short stint as vocalist for Borknagar as well as his noteworthy appearance in Arcturus' La Masquerade Infernale where he matched pipes with Garm. He then played bass in Dimmu Borgir for awhile to pay the rent while resurfacing as a singer here and there, in particular Arcturus' Sideshow Symphony. Eventually his time in Dimmu Borgir came to an end and he was able to rejoin the more relevant metal world away from the band. Apparently these days he's keeping busy as Borknagar's bassist and back up singer. But most importantly, he finally has released his very own solo record, naturally featuring members of Borknagar. To say that the Norwegian metal scene is a bit incestuous is an understatement.

Hestnęs' singing has always been a bit unusual, particularly his clean voice. Storm Seeker features the clean singing almost exclusively. As a result, the songs, which are a fairly straightforward gray metal that has little black metal influence, feature some of his signature oddball melodic approaches. In a genre where many vocalists lack defining characteristics, Hestnęs is one of those few voices that is instantly recognizable. And thankfully his unique approach to melodic structure gives us some fairly memorable songs: "Skoal!", the title track and ""When Shuffled Off" all have some very good moments.

If at any point you've listened a record featuring Hestnęs' singing and thought, "Man, I really dig this guy's voice", then there is no reason to avoid this record. It is a step away from his black metal roots towards a more melodic modern metal style, but I fail to see how that is necessarily to its detriment. Storm Seeker is short of an album of the year nomination, but it's definitely worth the while of anyone who has followed his career.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2011

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