Izz: Crush of Night
Izz has been one of my favorites for a while now and has been on a steady upward trajectory with each release. Their quality and stability is also making them one of the bands I would consider as part of the new foundation of prog. So of course I bought “Crush of Night” without first hearing a single note.
I have to be honest it didn’t grab me at first. Nothing was really wrong. The tunes just weren’t sticking with me. Granted, “My River Flows” contained a myriad of hooks and “The Darkened Room” wasn’t devoid of them. Perhaps that isn’t what I should have been expecting from an ever-evolving group. Instead of rushing to judgment, I gave it more time.
The more I listened the more “Crush of Night” grew on me. The music is a bit low-key compared to the last two outings. In that respect resembling the earlier Izz more than the recent. The compositions however are much more complex and do seem more of an extension of “The Darkened Room.” Also there is a distinct concept feel, especially in the extended “Crush of Night” pieces. This is the direction Izz has been heading and they haven’t changed course yet.
The bona fides of everyone involved shine through. Tom Galgano’s vocals are almost as good as his fingers on the keys (almost). Anmarie Byrnes voice is so beautiful you wonder why they ever dabbled with an additional female voice. Greg and Brian still sound great doing the dual percussion thing. Paul Bremner either wailing electric or emoting acoustic and John as usual handling bass and anything else that is needed. Heck they even have prog legend (and everyone’s favorite NEARfest regular) collaborating. He not only plays on two tracks but also co-wrote “Words and Miracles” with the band. There is no doubt about the quality of the music, and it is 100% Izz
Well, almost. There is no hiding Gary Green. He has an incredibly distinct sound. The first time through I forgot about Gary’s involvement and picked my head up at one point, thinking, “Wow, that sounds heavily influenced by Gentle Giant.” Then I remembered… “Oh yeah.” So it isn’t really all pure Izz, but still pretty cool. One problem though, and I will probably get mercilessly flamed for this, was it necessary? As cool as it sounds, is it Izz? I mean if you are going to incorporate an artist with such a unique and well-known signature it tends to distort what you do. Perhaps this pairing could have been an interesting side project. But that only goes to purity not quality.
The other thing is that it still hasn’t grabbed me like I want it too. The music is excellent but it’s not blowing me away like the last two albums. “My River Flows” had hooks, energy and some balls out rocking. “The Darkened Room,” while also taking a few spins to sink in, got me with the passion. I guess it’s the passion I’m not feeling.
Or it could be that my expectations had just been raised too high. “Crush of Night” is a very good album. To be truly objective I endeavor to judge everything I hear on its own merits. The problem is the impossibility of erasing what I have heard before. Okay so I don’t like it as much as the other two but I still like it. I still want it in my collection and I know it won’t get neglected with hundreds of others that gather dust in my rack or whatever the metaphor is for that on a computer.
Masterful compositions, beautiful vocals, perfect harmonies, stellar musicianship and Gary green… who could ask for more? Izz continues to live up to their deserved reputation. “Crush of Night” may not be a giant leap forward but it doesn’t matter. Great music is still great music. Keep it coming guys. We need you.
Paul Bremner – electric and acoustic guitars
Anmarie Byrnes – vocals
Brian Coralian electronic and acoustic drums, percussion – guitar
Greg DiMiceli – acoustic drums, percussion
John Galgano – bass, acoustic and electric guitar, vocals, keyboards Tom Galgano – vocals, keyboards
Gary Green – electric guitar, backing vocals
Greg Meade – electric guitar