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This album is much of an improvement over the fabulous disaster known as Paradise Lost. The oddly titled, Iconoclast, does not fare too high, falling in the category of being decent and alright for one time listen. The sound of this album is similar to what was experienced in their last output with some better focus on riffs and human vocals. The band loses their basic notes on how to compose a good heavy metal album and borrow some from Machine Head and Nevermore, instead of rewriting it themselves. Considering how great (sarcastically) bands Machine Head and Nevermore are, we surely cannot hope too much from this album.
Michael Romeo is all over the place in this album as he single handedly dominates everyone else. His riff work is losing its uniqueness due to the borrowed notes from our two favourite bands. The riffs mostly are in the form of random grooves and can easily be copy-pasted from one track to another without making much of a difference to either track. Considering that this is the same guitarist who played leads on Damnation Day or Divine Wings Of Tragedy, the lead work is nothing more than…well it is just there, you remove it, add some more, it will make no big difference. Russell Allen’s vocals see a dramatic improvement in this album as his vocals sound more human than his last outing. Don’t get me wrong, the vocals are still the traditional groove metal, shouting “tuff guy” Phil Anselmo worship, but this time with less focus on the “tuffness”. The keyboards are pushed further in the background and Michael Pinnella’s supreme talent is left unused. The drumming is well to do, nothing special to say about it. The production is highly guitar oriented, with very crunchy sound of the rhythm guitar, the only saving grace of the album.
The music in this album is a continuation in the direction similar to what was found in the last album. The basic riff work in the album is totally groove inspired. The songs are what you would get if you take a Machine Head or Pantera track, add some lengthy instrumentation and bit of keyboards to it, and you get the basic idea of the album. All of the songs tend to follow a similar pattern and style. The songs are not complex or technical in themselves. They are just plain power metal songs in the vein of Helloween Gambling With The Devil in structure with less emphasis on riff work. They try to create some dark atmosphere with what little keyboard work is found in the album, but sadly the husky, crunchy guitar tone and tasteless riffs overpower it. The somewhat better riffs are reserved for the choruses. Sadly the choruses are weak, and fail to hold the listener’s attention after more than one listen. Highlights include the tracks which deviate from the Pantera, Machine Head worship. The opener title track contains a catchy chorus and surprisingly it is very memorable. The closer comes out to be descent enough recreation of The Accolade. The rest of them are total abominations with some moments of brilliance which are negated by the hideous music around them.
With dead songwriting, wrong influences, and hideous performances, Symphony X have shat upon themselves, leaving very little room for comeback. Though not a bad output in itself, considering it is coming from the band that gave us The Divine Wings Of Tragedy, it is and will forever remain an abomination. This album is recommended for the fans of our favourite bands, Machine Head, Pantera, Lamb Of God etc, for whom this album is an Awake or a Crimson Idol, but for the rest of metal heads, please do not flock in the music stores for this album, as this definitely not the worth of your time or money.