Hybrid Ice - 2009 Minds Eye

richardbrichardb Poole, Dorset


ARTIST: Hybrid Ice
ALBUM: Minds Eye
LABEL: Self Released
YEAR: 2009


LINEUP: Rusty Foulke - guitars, vocals * Chris Alburger - guitars, vocals * Robert S Richardson - keyboards, vocals * Mike Boarman - bass, vocals * Rick Klinger - drums, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fight Another Day * 02 Bring The Gold * 03 Worth The Wait * 04 Sadder Day Morn * 05 Stop Searching * 06 Only The Lonely * 07 Mind's Eye * 08 Shining Star * 09 Faith Without Works

RATING: image


Hybrid Ice are something of a local institution in Pennsylvania having existed in various different incarnations since the late 60's - there's a comprehensive bio on their website which documents their history if you're interested.

Having (deservedly) earned the reputation of local legends over the years they even managed to impress a certain Mr Scholz along the way. He somehow got to hear 'Magdalene' (the single released from their debut) and was so impressed that a re-worked version eventually surfaced on Boston's 'Walk On' album many years later.

Numerous live performances followed over the years with acts such as Bad Company, The Beach Boys (!), Foreigner, Kansas and Ted Nugent.

Despite releasing a more commercial follow up 'No Rules' in 1987 they never managed to break the ice with the record buying public at large. As the band's success started to wane in the 1990's founder member Rusty Folke eventually decided to put the band on ice in 1998.

There was speculation several years later of a third album being in the can, though nothing ever materialised.

Therefore imagine my surprise when a third album 'Minds Eye' appeared in the summer. I suppose the $64 million question is have they matured like fine wine or are they way past their sell by date?

The Songs

'Fight Another Day' kicks off proceedings, with some lively, galloping guitar runs and a punchy chorus, the soulful slightly rasping vocals reminding me of Paul Sabu in his prime.

'Bring Me The Gold' is built around a lackadaisical guitar riff and has a bluesy feel. It's more of a melodic hard rock direction - not by any means typical Hybrid Ice fare. Lyrically I'm assuming that it's a critique of our consumerist society rather than a paean to corporate greed. At least I hope so, we don't want it adopted as an unofficial anthem for investment bankers do we?!

'Worth The Wait' is more typical of the Hybrid Ice style some of us have come to know and love.

The tasteful opening of acoustic guitar twinned with plaintive vocals reminds me of Indiana pompsters Stencil Forest but there's also a notable Boston influence on the twin guitar tone used on the chorus and instrumental bridge.

'Sadder Day Morn' is another classy mid-tempo affair, heavy on the atmospherics and rounded off by delicate vocal harmonies.

There's a hard driving rhythm and some crunching guitar on 'Stop Searching' though even with the delicate keyboard fills and vocal harmonies I found it competent rather than inspiring. Still this dip in quality is only momentary.

'Only The Lonely' is a truly majestic affair the melodramatic style reminding me of Harlan Cage at their most grandiose and it's my favourite cut on album.

'Minds Eye' is similarly pompous though with a more hard-driving chorus.

The heavy pomp onslaught continues with 'Shining Star' which opens to the delicious strains of a Hammond organ and is rounded by tasteful vocal harmonies on the memorable chorus.

Powerful and epic closer 'Faith Without Works' is the albums magnum opus weighing in at over 7 minutes with the sort of varying changes in tempo beloved by fans of the pomp genre. Naturally in the hands of Hybrid Ice this musical style is handled with consummate ease.

The delicate synthesizer gives way to some powerful guitar and grinding Hammond organ and it's the sort of cut that would not have been out of place on the last Presto Ballet album, a fine way to close proceedings.

In Summary

Well having given 'Minds Eye' repeated spins, I'm pleased to report that the band is very much alive and kicking (ass) - this isn't an album of tired covers or ridiculous modern rock posturing that's for sure.

In my humble opinion, they've successfully blended the progressive elements of the debut with the more commercial fare found on 'No Rules'.

On a final note it appears that the band have been performing some live dates in support of the new album. From what I can gather the response to the shows has been largely positive. Personally I'd give my eye teeth for the chance to hear the likes of 'Only The Lonely' in a live environment.

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