The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Ice Dragon, Born a Heavy Morning

Ice Dragon are no strangers to making it weird. The prolific Boston-based four-piece — vocalist Ron Rochondo, guitarist Carter, bassist Joe and now drummer Brad — crossed genre lines into ’70s prog with last year’s Dream Dragon, delved into droning noise with later last year’s greyblackfalconhawk and reveled in tripped out garage doom on 2010’s The Burl, the Earth, the Aether, while underscoring a growing influence with splits with Fellwoods and Pilgrim and playing live almost never, though an appearance earlier this year at the Scion Rock Fest gave some hint at a growing demand in that regard as well. With their newest full-length, Born a Heavy Morning, the band touch on psychedelia and melodies not so dissimilar in spirit from Dream Dragon or their Fall 2012 single Season of Decay/The Humble Titan, but flesh it out in a manner more rooted in ’60s pop while leaving space for moments of raw Beatlesian melodicism on “We’ll Go on a Trip, You and I,” blown out Monster Magnet-style arrogance on “The Past Plus the Future is Present” (which is also the stoned-est sounding thought I’ve heard all week) and older Danzig drawling malevolence on “We are the Hopeless.”

Born a Heavy Morning is richly varied and textured, but an overarching cohesiveness of atmosphere and narrative theme — call it “A Day in the Life” for the protagonist “A Man,” who is mentioned in the title of several of the ambient interludes — tie it together such that whether it’s the sunshiny ramble of opener “Wakin’ Up” or the key-infused loneliness of “The Deeper You Go,” Ice Dragon‘s echoes are easily set to both purposes. The 8:33 “The Past Plus the Future is Present” — which is subtitled ‘The Great Drudgery’ — meanders gloriously noisy over a steady bassline and far-back drumbeat as Ice Dragon continue to use underproduction as an aesthetic element better than everyone else not named Darkthrone, an emergent wash of bright guitar noise continuing some of the morning’s cycle later mirrored by the bleaker twang presented in “Square Triangle,” which, even when it picks up after about two minutes into its total eight, maintains a lonely Floydian vibe, though its groove is carried ably by the guitars and bass while the drums reside so deep in the mix they’re just barely a presence. Heavy as the morning is, it would seem, the day doesn’t get any easier as it goes on.

That remains true for the churn of the subsequent “I’m Lost” — subtitled ‘A Resolution of Dissolution’ — which seems to be the culmination of the protagonist’s woes. Returning to the brash throaty delivery of “The Past Plus the Future is Present,” Rochondo provides further bookend for Born a Heavy Morning‘s beginning, and though the cycle itself seems to come to a close with “In Which a Man Ends His Workweek with a Great Carouse” — vaguely British-accented narration underscoring a classic prog rock influence over light guitars and sampled guffaws — and that would seem to make closer “(I Will) Watch My Hair Grow” superfluous, the last track justifies the epilogue with cinematic synth and a feeling of resolution that comes through in the layers of Rochondo‘s vocals and the strumming of Carter. They’ve waded past the drudgery and into a sweet sort of resignation, and Born a Heavy Morning ends with a concluding strum that seems to harken one last time to the notion of the concept album as a whole, complete idea — they’re wrapping the whole record, not just the one track.

Its vibe is strikingly different from what they’ve done in the past, but Ice Dragon‘s sense of adventure has grown over the last few years such that genre limitations seem like a waste of time anyway. I would not expect whatever they do next to sound anymore like Born a Heavy Morning than Born a Heavy Morning sounds like the droning horrors of The Soul’s Midnight, released earlier this year, and I wouldn’t expect it to be too long after Navalorama Records issues Born a Heavy Morning on CD next month that Ice Dragon follow it up, because the one thing they never seem to be is stagnant.

You can hear the album now as part of the streaming playlist on The Obelisk Radio, and also check it out and grab a free download on the Bandcamp player below. Enjoy:

Ice Dragon, Born a Heavy Morning (2013)

Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks

Navalorama Records CD Pre-order

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