Heavier might be a good word to describe Symphony X's return on Iconoclast. But being Symphony X that would be too simplistic of a description. Founder and guitarist Michael Romeo states, in the press material, "This record will only become accessible to the listener after several runs. That was our purpose ... to create a multi-faceted and profound album that gives pleasure to our fans ... " To the latter, SX certainly offers another significant work progressive power metal. As to the former statement, I'm not sure. I think long time fans, and those who like their metal more intense and heavy, nearing the overrated brutality of modern metal, will catch on rather quickly.
The opening and title track begins with an extravagant prelude only to usher in some heavy and driving metal underscored by symphonic and choral elements. Yes, this is certainly Symphony X. Then the band moves into several songs which have foundations in fundamental heavy and power metal, just turned up a notch or two. The End of Innocence offers spirited melodic power metal; Dehumanized a chunky, well paced, dark vision of classic heavy metal; Bastards of the Machine, the shortest song, a quick jaunt into near modern metal intensity if it were not tempered by keyboards. Then Heretic returns to classic SX: well-appointed, hard charging, progressive power metal, emphasis on the power. Vocalist Russell Allen channels Ronnie James Dio on Children of a Faceless God, in formidable power metal style.
Yet, while these songs explore the evolving depth of Symphony X considerable repertoire, the last two songs Prometheus (I Am Alive) and When All Is Lost (top track on the album) are signature material for the band. Prometheus offers a heavy, full, and diverse arrangement distilling a fine mixture of heavy, power, and progressive metal. When All Is Lost my remind fans of classic SX. It's melodic and epic, with shifts of mood and moments that attract and entertain, like the nice acoustic guitar and piano just over half way in. It's also a perfect song to show how versatile a vocalist Russell Allen truly can be.
Of course, musicianship is at a premium once more (as expected). Romeo will inspire every aspiring guitar youngster (and veteran air player) with his usual unpredictably and skill. Take note of the lines on Iconoclast, Prometheus, and Dehumanized by example. Also, On these same songs Michael Pinnella proves that keyboards are not merely for atmosphere or accent, and his piano work on When All Is Lost is delightful. Kudos also to the fine drumming from Jason Rullo, especially on the powerful Dehumanized and blistering Heretic. Look for bassist Michael Lepond steadiness and strength on Iconoclast and Heretic.
Indeed, Iconoclast is genuine Symphony X. Ratching up their metal intensity with more classic heavy and power metal injected into the progressive, Iconoclast is blistering, intriguing, and entertaining. Strongly recommended.
Iconoclast is genuine Symphony X. Ratching up their metal intensity with more classic heavy and power metal injected into the progressive, Iconoclast is blistering, intriguing, and entertaining.