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After listening to this album over and over again, I came up with one conclusion: this band is trying to play modern thrash metal, but is it modern thrash metal that we're talking about here? Combining various elements of thrash and adding more modern elements to their sound makes "Icon In Me" nothing but another "metalcore" band. More like BFMV, only heavier and somehow more aggressive. However, I can't deny that the musical aspects in this release are great only with rather confusing vocals.
Track by track, I fell in love with the music, and despite the load of annoying vocals that really are disturbing, it's all okay with his angry loud voice if you can ignore the lame emotional cries and spoken things that do not fit the extremity of this music.
What is very noticeable in this album are the massive drum lines... brutal soul-filling lines that truly express the drummer's talent, capability, and mastering of his instrument. The bassist is so busy creating great lines for every structure of the tracks, which means this album is heavy-based and ready for any great material that guitars can come up with. Those guitar riffs did not fail me either; they are indeed well-written and give you those sick, melodic-influenced and dry-sharp riffs that really are so deep and head crushing, with powerful rhythms, good solos, and energetic breakdowns. Overall, the guitars are influenced by melodic death and old school thrash.
In my opinion, this album can't be considered a raw metalcore production. It has something heavier than other bands within this genre, yet I found it as confusing as them. As any metaller will agree, it's something between good musical taste and childish metalcore chaos.
With the recent resurgence of old school thrash metal such as Warbringer and the likes comes bands that bear the flag of modern thrash metal, fusing various elements of thrash metal and giving their sound a more modern twist. Icon In Me is one such band, hailing from Russia and Head Break Solution is their sophomore effort after the lukewarm response from their 2009 debut album, Human Museum.
The album starts off strongly with a catchy riff of Suicide World, backed by a powerful rhythm section. The band also plays with spoken samples at the background, which brings about a sense of unease and slight chaos to the music, giving a taste of what's to come on Head Break Solution. However, as the album begins proper with Wasted Ways, all previous impression that has been built up thus far crumbles, with the hardcore shouting vocal style of vocalist Tony JJ, bringing about hardcore bands such as Hatebreed to mind instantly. This gets particularly irritating on songs like Face It. As if this were not enough, the Tony JJ alternates between these "tough guy" shouting style and clean singing a la metalcore bands such as Bullet For My Valentine and Killswitch Engage. Speaking vocals on The Quest further enhances this, backed by the breakdowns present in the music.
This is however, not to say that the music is without its credit as the rest of the band proves on their individual instruments. Guitarists Artyom and D. Frans constantly prove themselves on their axes through either face-ripping, sweep-picking solos or the well-thought out, melodic guitar solos. The sufficiently self-respecting thrashy riffs unleashed also ensure that the music does not disintegrate into a pure metalcore album. The band also brings in their melodic death metal influences through the razor sharp riffing style and guitar tone on songs such as Face It. The inclusion of clean guitars on songs like The Quest also ensures that things do not get too boring and at the same time display their versatility.
Drummer Morten also proves that his huge portfolio is not without reason, through his energetic drumming style that enhances the listening experience of Head Break Solution. The band also utilises instruments such as the keyboards and piano section present on songs like Un-Slaved and the ballad Tired & Broken to bring out the emotion felt in the music. Despite this, songs tend to get pretty repetitive and boring as they drag on and would have definitely benefitted from shorter run times.
That said though, Head Break Solution could be a good transition album for fans of metalcore looking into converting and changing their tastes into more aggressive and more legit metal.