CD Review – Incarnadine 2009 CD “The Soldier”

“The Soldier” is an EP release for Incarnadine. Although it comprises only 3 songs, there is a consistency that suggests this release is representative of the rest of their material, circa 2009.

For a reviewer, a CD release comprising 3 songs is an interesting challenge. I mean, do you treat it as a Single with two B sides – and if so, which song is the Single. Or is this a cut down EP – and if so, why is it only 3 songs? Did they run out of ideas, money, time, or is there another reason? As a regular gigging band that is clearly professional and well organised I suspect there are other reasons that will remain a mystery. Maybe together the 3 songs tell a single story. A story of war, death, loss, betrayal, and flesh and blood. Incarnadine.

For this reviewer, that is not the full extent of the mystery with this release. I think I can safely say that I had never said or written “Incarnadine” before I reviewed this CD. I bet that unless you have something to do with this band you have probably never said or written it either. Add that to our vocabularies, thanks Incarnadine.

The title track “The Soldier” starts off like the theme music for an American Criminal Investigation series before launching into a classic rock tune, employing dual guitar interplay, modal riffs and harmonics set against a subtle keyboard backdrop. A chugging pair of heavy guitars sets the background tone for most of the song with Suze’s strong but somewhat understated vocals hovering above the palette. Carl’s guitar solo is restrained – you can appreciate an artist who holds back when clearly capable of delivering more. This song is catchy and solid material for Adult Orientated Radio, but I don’t think it’s the single I was looking for.

As a teenager I remember Anne and Nancy Wilson bursting on to the music scene with their band Heart releasing “Magic Man” and “Barracuda”. Although I can’t say I joined up as a fan, I did enjoy those songs as they broke up the horrible monotony of mid-70’s commercial radio releases. On this CD the second song “The Reaper” reminds me very much of early Heart; Suze’s strong female lead vocals augmented by Robyn’s vocal harmonies, and heavy rock guitar. This song would be my choice for a commercial release as it really does get into your head after a couple of listens.

The final song “Liar” is a ballad which allows Suze to deliver her vocals across a slightly broader range. It’s a sadder song, almost with a Spanish feel to it. The short guitar solo is a gem. Carl again plays within himself and it works.

This band has its own sound. It is distinctive, consistent, and firmly in the “Rock” genre with a leaning towards the heavy side. Musically, Incarnadine could deliver material across a range of styles from Classic Rock to Melodic Death Metal, but Suze’s vocals are going to define them. I wish them all the best.