The Icarus Line: Slave Vows – album reviewThe Icarus Line – Slave Vows (Agitated Records)



Rock ‘n’ roll is a mean and filthy business.

That much we know.

Many have tried and many have failed to capture its dangerous flame and few have survived the process. For every so called classic band walking off with the loot there are lost genius bands like The Icarus Line who make a ‘n’ roll so perfect that they should be one of those hallowed gods that the rock ‘n’ roll professors like Bobby Gillespie mention in every breath as representing the essential quicksilver of the form done properly.

The band have been with us for some time now and they have kicked out the jams with a series of albums that a handful of us treasure and everyone else ignores.

Fuck knows why.

In Joe Cardemone they have a perfect frontman, a 21st century take on the youthful sex Iggy with that feral air of panther menace and danger and also that deadly high IQ bored of the slow lane of life of the great Igster. Also like Iggy he has done his time being ignored but unlike Iggy has not been saved by Dame David Bowie or some equivalent rock god.


Only one thing left then,

Save yourself.

The new Icarus Line is the sound of a singer so disgusted with the tedium of rock ‘n’ roll and its cruel ignorance that the tension and the emotion explode everywhere. Not that this is some kind of cheap thrash. There is total control like on the opening Dark Circles that hangs like high tension wire with its long willowing feedback intro before descending into the beautiful narcotic blues of the James Williamson Stooges.

Dark as pitch, this is enthralling. The only other album I can think of that holds this kind of tension perfectly is The Seer by the Swans- The Icarus Line are like the younger kid brother of Swans who is still enthralled by the rock and the roll.

This is a beautiful, dark record, a masterpiece of emotion dripping like the dark treacle of the prime time blues, the quivering perfection of the Gun Club, the walking on gilded fire of James Williamson Stooges, the decadence of the early seventies Stones, the forget the clock sheer length and testing power and grace of Swans and the tripped out guitar filth of Gregg Ginn’s Black Flag.

The vocals are perfection, either the screech of emotional skree or the ghost like trance of Suicide cranked for the 21st century blues where America walks on the edge and the collective nervous breakdown of the big city is perfectly capture by a band on fire.

There has been a lot of talk about Nirvana recently and how they changed music forever and this is true but if only the world could hear The Icarus Line’s stunning new album then rock n roll could be cut loose and set free again.

It’s time to wake up to The Icarus Line, sometimes even genius needs feeding…

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Your words mist my eyes. We have known this about Joe all our lives. He has been a song writing prodigy since age 13. Why the world has not caught on has us baffled. Thank you for echoing his parents’ thoughts in your review here and regarding the show in Manchester. I wish he could have wanted anything else but the entertainment business, but as you can see – there is no holding Joe back from what he needs to do. – PC


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