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Symphony X - Iconoclast CD (album) cover


Symphony X


Progressive Metal

3.78 | 467 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Right out of the gate you'll know that Symphony X's Iconoclast is going to be that sort of prog-metal album that hits-hard; it'll get your fists pumping, your brain melting, and speakers blasting... and just plain smash the hell out of the competition with a massive show of technical and stylistic flourish. Iconoclast is amazing.

The title opener kicks in the door with fairly standard power-metal atmosphere: epic choirs, big crunchy guitar chords, symphonic keyboards. Then the riffing starts, that powerful, irresistible chugging of Romeo's guitar that grinds with dexterity and aggression and skill - your attention is captured. Then Russell Allen's gravely, masculine, powerful vocals begin - your hairs start to raise. Then the whole band freaking explodes in a world- shattering series of melodies, time changes, instrumental showcases, and excellent soloing that just gets better and better as the 11 minute song unfolds.

And then the next song begins, and then the next, and the next... and it just gets better!

Let's be clear: Iconoclast is not going to win awards for being the most creative prog-metal release. In fact, there's predictability in the band's songwriting, and they use a lot of the tropes that define the genre. This isn't to say it's not top notch among their peers though; these songs are so freaking good, they just aren't experimental. And you know what, listen to Iconoclast and I can guarantee that you won't care. This album is everything that a great prog/power metal album should be, and maybe focusing on the basics is what makes it so good. I don't think I've heard a more addictive metal album.

I'm amazed that the band is able to sustain the momentum throughout the album's massive running length (although you'll probably need break half-way). The first disc especially is packed with more metal, more demonstrations of technical ability, and more memorable moments than you can count. Romeo proves he's a guitar giant throughout (especially in his soaring solo on "Dehumanized"), while Pinella impresses as well with very smart use of his keyboards, such as in the dynamic and more subtle piano work at the album's conclusion. They're never overdone or cartoonish, and his solo moments fit in very well with the tone of the songs. The rhythm section may be one of the highlights of the album. Thanks to an excellent production, we can appreciate all of Lepond's aggressive basslines and Rullo's personality-filled drumming. Symphony X was always sort of a side interest for me, as I got swept up in Dream Theater fandom during my mid '20's... but this album has seriously changed my mind.

To wrap up, I want to spend a few words talking about Russell Allen, both his vocals and the lyrics he's singing. First off... the guy is a beast. Try singing along and your voice will be gone in a few minutes. Try keeping up with the guy's range, and you'll be sounding like a you've got a cold, or are a puny little girl because he can scream and bellow with the best of them. Simply put, he's great. The lyrics, telling a loosely connected story about the synthesis between man and machine, are gloriously corny. Emphasis on the glorious. I'm a big fan of fantasy and sci-fi in my metal, and the lyrics deliver here in a BIG way. The rhymes are epic and memorable, and while listening I frequently daydreamed all kinds of robot on human violence. To me, this is the mark of excellent song-writing: not they convey some deeper message, which is all too often just a bunch of bathos bullshit, but they instead are genuine and fun for the audience. And Allen completely nails it.

So bottom line, if you're a fan of metal music, get Iconoclast, dim the lights, and be transported to a world of massive sci-fi battles and explosions of musicianship that deserve to be at the top of the genre.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 5 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Prog Leviathan | 5/5 |


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