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Imperial Crystalline Entombment - Ancient Glacial Resurgence

In 2003, a mysterious American black metal band emerged. Their name was Imperial Crystalline Entombment, or I.C.E. for short. When people first heard about them, they thought their theme and aesthetic were absolutely ridiculous. Many Vanilla Ice jokes were made. The crowd swiftly changed their tune upon hearing the group's album Apocalyptic End in White, which featured cold and ferocious black metal. Shortly after this album's release, the band vanished, and nothing would be heard from them until almost twenty years later. Like a sudden snowstorm, the band's latest album, Ancient Glacial Resurgence, struck the metal scene with frigid malice.

Even after all these years, the formula is unchanged. They could best be described as a mix of Immortal and Marduk with a bit of death metal thrown in for good measure. The production is strong and clear, but still ice cold. The drums spend the majority of the runtime playing rampaging blast beats that put most other black metal bands to shame, but there are some moments when they play galloping rhythms full of thumping double bass as well as more ponderous slow beats. They also make sure to include plenty of fantastic fills, such as those on "Of Blizzards and Banshees". The bass provides a subtle performance that gives the music a greater sense of depth. There are even moments during the slower sections when they can be heard more clearly.

The vocals still consist of a harsh rasp, but they sound a bit more refined than they did in the past. The guitars are the strongest element, though. Their many tremolo riffs are fast, frigid, and eviscerating. When things slow down, they play sinister power chords, such as those on "Eternal Subzero Torment". They also play a few doom-like passages such as those at the beginning of "Cataclysmic Glaciation". The death metal influence mostly takes the form of low-pitched palm-muted riffs, like those on "Ravaskeith's Crystalline Return", but there are songs like "Savage Blizzard Stabbings" where they play start-stop chugging riffs. My favorites are the ones on "Opening the Arctic Imperial Gates".

Ancient Glacial Resurgence is one of the best metal albums of 2023. Since the band had been inactive for so long, I thought they would have gotten rusty, but they've actually improved since their first album. The performance is tighter and the songwriting is a lot more memorable. If they ever intend to release a third album, let's hope we don't have to wait another twenty years.