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Ichabod - "2012" (CD)

Ichabod - "2012" CD cover image

"2012" track listing:

1. Sleeping Giants (4:44)
2. Giving Up the Ghost (4:57)
3. Gentlemen of the Choir (8:10)
4. Nile Song (10:00)
5. Interlude (:18)
6. New Year's Prayer (1:24)
7. 2012 (6:20)
8. 2012 Outro (6:31)

Reviewed by on December 18, 2009

"'2012' doesn’t completely crash and burn, but there are definitely some dents and scratches in the paint that hurt the album’s overall value."

The year 2012 has great significance in our culture. Some prophets say that it is when the world will end in a fiery blaze, if ancient Mayan scriptures are correct. Whether that happens or not is anybody’s guess, but Ichabod is not waiting to find out. Their fourth album, “2012,” is built around this concept, as the band sonically continues in the vein of stoner/doom metal. The album can almost be split into two halves, both of them different sides of the same coin. While the first half is chock-full of stellar songwriting and progressive ideologies, the second half is unbalanced and lacks a sharp focus. The inequality between both parts is equal to an up-and-down listening affair, resulting in a middle-of-the-road album.

Ichabod isn’t just a standard stoner act; they integrate sounds and ideas from all walks of music. Sampling/programming add a sinister bleakness to the apocalyptic theme, especially with closer “2012 Outro,” while an early 70s progressive rock feel is brought out in the longer tracks. Variety is the spice of life in Ichabod’s case; not one song sounds similar to the other. They all are based around the stoner/doom sound, but each track has something different to bring to the table.

“Giving Up The Ghost” is a groove-infused upbeat rocker, with a infectious chorus that will be stuck in the memory banks long after the album is over. The title track is a faster song with a heavy guitar, wah-pedal emphasis that has a raucous energy emitting from the surface. The acoustic ending brings out a moody, Middle Eastern vibe that fits in well with the dark undertones of the lyrics, which signify the end of existence (“Re-birth or are we on the course for war/ drifting to the edge of the universe/slow drips the sands of time”).

While “2012” does give off an epic musk throughout the course of its 40+ odd minutes, no more is this on display than in the middle section of the album. “Gentlemen Of The Choir” snakes its way through eight minutes of hazy bass lines, futuristic keyboard samples, and a hard-hitting chorus. The last two minutes, in particular, veer into Jethro Tull territory, with a flute solo straight out of “Thick As A Brick.” Their ode to Pink Floyd with a cover of the underrated “Nile Song” turns the hard-rocking track into an extended jam session that outdoes the original. The band sounds carefree as they continuously go on, building slowly towards an energetic conclusion.

If only the second half of the album could be on par with these two monstrous numbers. Other than the already-mentioned title track, the rest of the material is disposable. While everything does fit the overall theme of the last half of the album, most of the later portions turn out to be more filler than anything else. “2012 Outro” is guilty of this, throwing together samples questioning religion, the end of the world, and our own faith in humanity. It’s a poignant message, but goes on far too long. It fits in after “2012,” but doesn’t stand out on its own as anything significant.

It’s a damn shame that the faults of the second half of the album have to weight down the strong, early moments. Ichabod had a fascinating idea to work off of and delivered on the musical front, but it just isn’t enough. There are only six real tracks on here, and with one being the Pink Floyd cover and another just a string of samples, the lack of enough original songs hurt the album, especially when they are all regaled to the first half. “2012” doesn’t completely crash and burn, but there are definitely some dents and scratches in the paint that hurt the album’s overall value.

Highs: Great cover of Pink Floyd's "Nile Song," strong first half, end-of-the-world theme isn't overdone or excessive.

Lows: A lot of filler in the second half, "2012 Outro" is a bunch of random samples spliced together, more original full-length songs would have been beneficial.

Bottom line: This stoner/doom metal album has its ups-and-downs, with the strong first half being weighed down by filler in the later portions.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)