|Review: Symphony X - Iconoclast|
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2011
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Review online: June 14, 2011
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Rated 4.52/5 (90.4%) (75 Votes)
I think the word "inaccessible" comes to mind when many metal fans think of Progressive Metal. It carries the burden of being very technical and employing challenging, even overwrought, compositions. For fans of the genre, these are things that make it so special, yet most fans just can't be bothered. Symphony X has, in my opinion, cracked that particular nut with their latest release Iconoclast. The album is marked by the fast-changing time signatures, unusual chord progressions and all-around spectacular performances expected of Progressive Metal releases. Yet Iconoclast is also rife with big, meaty riffs, shimmering solos and the amazing vocals of Russell Allen.
There is truly something for everyone on Iconoclast. There's the 10 minute title track that opens the album, with its serpentine song structure, the Power Metal double-kicks of "Bastards of the Machine" and the sublime melodies of the melancholy closer "When All Is Lost." While this may make the album sound like it's a bit unfocused, nothing could be further from the truth. Uniting each song is an enormous sound and hooks that will drag in even the casual listener. And don't forget heavy. Listening to Iconoclast is like getting run down by a freight train. It never sinks into moodiness or excessive soloing.
The album has a sharp, modern production, that avoids sounding artificial, thanks, in large part, to the emotional growls and screams of Russell Allen. He's elevated his performance this time around and occasionally sounds a bit like Ronnie James Dio. The rest of the bands pays homage to the progressive rock that undoubtedly inspired them, especially keyboardist Michael Pinnella, who manages to sneak in some of the Hammond organ sounds of past keyboard heroes like Rick Wakeman, Tony Banks and Don Airey.
I initially had Iconoclast pegged at 4.75/5, mainly because I felt songs such as "Electric Messiah" and "Prometheus (I Am Alive)" weren't quite as good as the rest of the album. But then, I thought, those songs would likely be the "A" material for 95% of bands out there, so I was probably judging them too harshly. Iconoclast is accessible and challenging at the same time and will appeal to every fan of Heavy Metal, regardless of favorite genre. It is a must have and is bound to show on many Top 10 lists for 2011. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy.
Reviewed here is the jewel case, single disc version. A 2 CD digipak with 3 extra tracks is also available.
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