by Nathaniel Fitzgerald
As both a writer and a musician, music reviews have always posed a special kind of challenge. After all, music is one of the few art forms that truly transcend language. Language can be used to describe it to a certain extent, but the ceiling of limitations is pretty low. After all, how can I actually put into words how My Bloody Valentine warps sound to their will on Loveless or what Sigur Ros does to my heart on Takk?
But every once in a while, someone distills a musician’s modus operandi into a short string of words that manages to encapsulate the very essence of what they are doing.
For instance, in the press pack accompanying Flight of Icarus’ new album Cleo, the Swedish duo’s music is described as being “like a heavy metal version of the Frozen soundtrack.” What’s even more telling is that the band themselves describe the comparison as “the highest compliment we could receive.”
Listening to the music itself, that absolutely tracks. Keyboards create symphonic arrangements that trace out triumphant melodies, building with urgent drums to a climax of heavy hair metal guitars. The arrangements are courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Oskar Frentzén, which are then paired with the soaring vocals of Elisabeth Särnefält Rösehag, whose voice is certainly on par with all Disney comparisons—as are the lyrics which describe epic battles, flying away, and the coming of long-awaited heroes. And maybe it’s just because they’re from Sweden, but I also hear some of the theatrical pop sensibilities of national megastars ABBA.
The Metal Disney schtick is simple enough to understand, but it’s executed as well as you could hope for. That is, if that’s the sort of thing you’d hope for. With this type of album, it’s far less about whether or not the music is good (which, let’s be clear, it is) than if it’s the type of thing that appeals to the listener. Detractors will call it cheesy and overwrought with melodrama. They might not be wrong, but if you’re the type of person who would be a fan of Heavy Metal Frozen, “cheesy and melodramatic” might not deter you anyway. If that’s the sort of thing you think you’d love, then you’ll love this record. If not, then don’t bother.