26 June 2013

Symphony X - Iconoclast


I'll let the whole world into a secret. Ever since I heard Symphony X's Paradise Lost, it was about this time when their music was getting heavier than before, and less relative to their fellow peers like Dream Theater and Shadow Gallery, and I loved every minute of it. From that moment on, many amazing pieces of music have been recorded by way of The Dungeon. It's the recording studio of Michael J. Romeo which his band  have invested heavily in, the majority of the outlay spent on the orchestral and symphonic processes. Without the need for an expensive or time consuming orchestra it means boundaries can be pushed even further in the search of an epic piece.

This whole concept may seem like processed food in a way, but the sound of Symphony X feels raw and visceral and they've kept true and simple to the format of Prog Metal with neo-classical overtones. However, this eighth album release is much darker and heavier than their previous offerings and many original fans were threatening to disassociate themselves. Where their previous release Paradise Lost ran through a biblical theme, Iconoclast tells a straightforward tale of machines taking over the world and you only have to look at the album cover to gauge an idea of what's going on here. The artwork is down to Warren Flanagan (The Incredible Hulk, 2012) with the idea of all 5 band members assimilated into an apparent machinery order.

To the album. The title track is an frenetic pacey 11 minute opus telling of a computer apocalypse and the clear message Russell Allen sends to the world never to lose spirit.  All of them have been written with the machine theme in mind, and apart from the final track, the piano and classic guitar led When All Is Lost, they run on small variations of beat and rhythm, while Romeo's exhaustive fretwork and Michael Pinella's equally tireless keyboards complement each other. My personal favorite tracks on Iconoclast are Electric Messiah and Heretic which are the heavier and pacier content of the tracklist. Other tunes however like Bastards Of The Machine and Prometheus (I Am Alive) don't fully light the blue touchpaper for me despite the apparent edge on proceedings.

Sometimes I await with baited breath for certain albums, some I delight to while others I feel a slight disappointment towards and Iconoclast feels very purposeful and blatant in its own right. It's not going to create the sort of ripples that Paradise Lost did, and it does threaten to suggest that the creative boundaries are pushed to the edge here. Nevertheless Iconoclast is very engaging and a worth an hour of your listening although the Special Edition version with its three extra tracks would certainly help to push up its mark up further. M. Richardson 26/06/2013

7 out of ten. This is good and well worth a check.

You can buy the album here

You can listen to the album here on Spotify

You can follow all the band's activities on their official website


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