Opinion: Ichabod Crane’s “Brimstone” is good, not great

Conner Howard

Thrash metal is alive and well in Akron, with local band Ichabod Crane releasing their full-length album “Brimstone” April 23.

Ichabod Crane seems to know what they are doing inside and out. “Brimstone” is packed with sharp metal fundamentals. The guitars are fast, hard and angry with inventive solos and interludes breaking up the heavy riffs. The percussion hits the eardrums hard without letting up. In some songs, the drums are refreshingly technical and scaled back — a welcome break from the expected double-bass rhythms practiced by many established metal bands.

Built on a solid foundation of aggressive yet melodic instrumentals, “Brimstone” is somewhat less impressive when it comes to vocals. The vocalists in Ichabod Crane boast admirable screeching and growling capabilities, which few vocalists can pull off easily. The vocals are delivered through alternating high and low screams. This is an effective singing dynamic in theory but falls flat in the sense that the voices don’t quite mesh as well as they could. At the same time, the last song on the album, entitled “Hail!” features high-pitched vocals reminiscent of the works of Iron Maiden, and it’s good to see some exploration on the part of the vocalists.

As for the lyrics, it’s hard to say what most of the songs are even about; the listener has little more than the song titles to go off of. Ichabod Crane’s vocal styles make it difficult to relate to the song on an artistic level. However, metal music isn’t always about the storytelling involved in the lyrics. More often than not, it is important to focus instead on the raw emotion present in the music. In this aspect, “Brimstone” delivers. The music is passionate and involving, leaving no doubt in the listener’s mind that Ichabod Crane feel strongly about what they do and that substantial effort was put into this album.

On the whole, “Brimstone” feels like a very by-the-book metal album. Ichabod Crane seems to have broken thrash metal down into a formula and followed it to the letter. This is by no means a bad thing. It is clear the band is knowledgeable and talented in the field of producing highly competent metal music. However, there isn’t a whole lot about “Brimstone” that stands out as extraordinary or groundbreaking. On top of that, some of the tracks sounded somewhat sloppy and chaotic (not in a good way) and could use some fine-tuning in both instrumentals and vocals.

“Brimstone” is a pure, unfiltered metal album that stays loyal to the roots of the genre. Its flaws are small and few, but perhaps the biggest flaw is that it’s almost too true to the expected traits of thrash metal. There isn’t much here to surprise or amaze the listener. Ichabod Crane has created a very good metal album, to be sure. However, in order to put together a truly great album, the band should do some exploration and experimentation to forge a sound of their own. “Brimstone” shows that the talented lads from Akron have a firm grip on the building blocks of great metal music. Now, it’s time for them to do some building.

Contact Conner Howard at [email protected].