17 June 2011
by Tom Dare
If you’re going to spend a long time on every album, it’s generally a good idea if it’s worth the wait when you finally release it. Four long, barren, desperate years out from the stellar Paradise Lost, Symphony X return with eighth album Iconoclast. Has all the anticipation been for nothing?
It takes roughly fifteen seconds of the opening title track’s intro to let you know in no uncertain terms that Symphony X haven’t been sitting around scratching their sacks. Iconoclast sounds brighter and more vast than ever before, and from the instant Michael Romeo’s trademark riffs enter for the first time, it’s clear that the band are firmly onto a winner. By the end of the 11 minute epic, it’s made its mark as one of the best songs the band have ever written.
Romeo is in virtuoso form, Jason Rullo’s drumming is once again highly articulate and evocative, and then there’s the frontman. It’s not even that surprising any more when Russell Allen turns in a stellar performance, but you will struggle to name a singer in metal capable of such a splendid outing as his on Iconoclast. Tone, power, emotional intensity, lyrical skill and instantly memorable hooks designed to have you roaring along with your fist in the air are just some of the characteristics he has in abundance.
But for all the solo performances that stand out, it is the ensemble that makes this a record to come back to over and again. Slot everything together, and the magnificence of the songs stands tall above so much else. The thrashy attack of ‘Bastards Of The Machine‘ strides its way through the landscape, clearing the chaff from its path. ‘Children Of A Faceless God‘ broods beneath the chug before soaring effortlessly on gossamer wings, and sumptuous closer ‘When All Is Lost‘ is the epic prog metal ballad/thudding shred fest that most bands would coat with ham and drench with cheese but Symphony X judge perfectly.
Listen to ‘The End Of Innocence’ from Iconoclast here:
If you’re going to return with albums this good, you can take as long as you bloody like to make them. Admittedly there’s one or two tracks slightly less spectacular than the others, but the highlights are so grand and the performances so accomplished that you probably won’t even notice. Symphony X have never sounded so huge.
Sounds like: Sons Of Seasons, Pathosray, Myrath
Top tracks: Iconoclast, Bastards Of The Machine, When All Is Lost
Symphony X – Iconoclast tracklisting:
The End Of Innocence
Bastards Of The Machine
Children Of A Faceless God
Prometheus (I Am Alive)
When All Is Lost