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Symphony X - Iconoclast CD (album) cover

ICONOCLAST

Symphony X

 

Progressive Metal

3.78 | 378 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

JJLehto
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Symphony X has done it again!

They had one hell of a challenge following up both "The Odyssey" and "Paradise Lost" but they did it.

The New Jersey prog metal masters have proven that the key to continual success is progression. They continue moving in the direction from "Paradise Lost", a more metal direction. "Iconoclast" is the heaviest, darkest album Symphony X has ever put out, continuing to shed it's symphonic, neo classical elements. Indeed, the power metal style riffing, present on all their albums, is largely absent here, replaced with a mechanical style: heavy, angular, often groovy, sometimes disjointed and wild. There is some serious groove on this album. Adding to the mechanical feel is increased use of off tempo stuff, and more cold keyboard sound. The fantasy, mythological and epic lyrics are also gone, replaced with the grim theme of technology being our downfall.

"Iconoclast" is more straightforward and less outright progressive, though it is still there. Instead of varied sections, (though that does still happen here) the progressiveness is more subtle, mainly in the riffing and overall texture. It does take some time to really sink in, since at first it can sound a bit samey. "Iconoclast" really ups Rullo's drumming in the mix, it is loud and you can hear every hit. Thank goodness! His drumming is great as always, featuring more off tempo playing then ever. Allen's vocals are also perfect as always. He maintains the lower, hard edged tone from "Paradise Lost". Needless to say: the riffing is awesome, the solos mindblowing and the song structures are subtle and well composed. Note: While a bit different this is clearly Symphony X, the sound is there and unmistakable.

The album begins with an 11 minute epic featuring some old Symphony x standards, including epic choirs. The title track pretty much contains it all. "The End of Innocence" contrasts the new mechanical feel with mid tempo thrash and soaring vocals, with some melodic and extreme groove sections thrown in and some synth sprinkling the background.

"Dehumanized" is perhaps the most brutal song on the album, complete with riffing and drumming to die for. Also, one of the best performances by Russell Allen. Really, there is no bad song on the album, and there's not even a weak one. "When All is Lost" is the Symph X ballad, and "Reign in Madness" is a synth laden song that really moves. When it first hits you the keyboard is odd (almost 80's sound), but damn it works perfectly. The parts with synth over crushing power chords, and Allen singing out to the heavens "Bow your heads and abandon hope, we're the gods of pain. Raise your hands if you'll join with us, and let the madness reign" can only be described as EPIC.

With "Iconoclast" Symphony X continues to move in incremental steps, producing a sound pretty different from their older albums, yet still identifiable as them. No doubt this is Symphony X. It is heavy, groovy, mechanical, sometimes very moving, sometimes soaring epically. Besides retaining their sound while moving forward, there are few weak moments from start to finish. At first it could sound a bit samey but every song is different, and there is more subtlety and texture than outright progressiveness. The guitar work is epic, drumming perfect, synth has its role, Allen's vocals are flawless, going where needed and never over doing it. Every member of this band is immensely talented, and they each can showcase it though rarely in virtuoso style, they also each know their place and every thing fits together perfectly. It's why I regard Symphony X as one the top metal acts of it's time, and hope with this album more will come to think so.

Superb Album

FOUR AND A HALF STARS

bump: Four

JJLehto | 4/5 |

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