Progressive metallers Kasper Rosa have embraced vocals in this double A-side release in their quest to ascend to the big leagues
It starts with a liquid smooth guitar-line, snaking around the edge of your imagination, before exploding into some of the finest progressive metal Northern Ireland has ever produced. Kasper Rosa are back. You should know about it.
They have always been an odd fit, Kasper Rosa, their long, instrumental music initially marking them out as one of the many And So I Watch You From Afar copyists. But it didn’t take long for the Belfast four-piece's prog rock aspirations to turn heads.
Incorporating vocals to their sound in 2012, the band continue to plough forward with Icebreaker, a double A-side release that shows that they have not been idle during the last half of 2012. ‘Khora’, the first track, is what Pink Floyd would sound like if they were a metal band. It's that good.
The riffs kick in at the start of the song, before slinking into the background as beautifully chiming acoustic and electric guitars take centre stage. This is accessible, engaging stuff, more concise than previous work without sacrificing an inch of Kasper Rosa's characteristic musical complexity.
At a relatively tight 5’55, ‘Khora’ boils down Kasper Rosa's sound to its very essence. All the flab has been trimmed from the bones, allowing the listener to fully appreciate the intricate, melodic guitars of Ryan McCormick and Steven Butler, and the doom leaden bass and drums of Dave Shannon and James Bruce.
McCormick and Butler’s vocals blend into one, providing the centrepiece to this beguiling and compelling piece of music. Those early ASIWYFA comparisons now seem tragically misguided.
‘Fires of Great Ships’ provides a wistful and melancholic counterpart to ‘Khora’. Here the band's reflective side is on display, yet the song is still framed within their distinctive progressive metal trappings. Then Kasper Rosa really go for the jugular, epic guitar solos panning out to moments of widescreen ambience.
The chord changes surprise, and whilst every element is impressive in its own right, the whole still manages to be more than the sum of its parts. ‘Fires of Great Ships’ allows the band to stretch their instrumental muscles a little more, taking its time to get to where it wants to go, with the interplay of the instruments the most important thing.
It’s a step sideways, offering up the kind of sound we’ve come to expect from the band. Yet when coupled with ‘Khora’, the appetiser, this track feels like a hearty main course. I'm happy to gorge.
With Icebreaker Kasper Rosa have finally found a way of drawing in the outsiders, as well as giving their fans exactly what they want. On the wider UK stage, there is a real hunger for this kind of music, and it might just be that Kasper Rosa have engineered their ascendancy to the big leagues.
Icebreaker is available for download from February 28, 2013. Kasper Rosa launch Icebreaker at the Workman's Club, Dublin on March 1.