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I've read several of the reviews here on the Archives. Most people refer to this album as 'Dechristianize II.' I think that it's a mistake to merely shove this release aside as more of the same.
As you can see by checking out my review of Dechristianize, I gave this album a higher score. Most people who liked Dechristianize seemed to do the opposite. Let me rationalize the higher score.
First of all, the production of this album is superior to Dechristianize. Courtesy of Mr. Erik Rutan, the tone is thicker, nastier and darker. The meatier sound made the album more enjoyable.
The riffing is mean and nasty, just as in Dechristianize. One of Dechristianize's biggest flaws was the monotony of the riffing that appears throughout the album. Icons Of Evil definitely improves. Though there is still a bit of monotony, there is definitely a lot more creativity here then the band has gotten credit for in other reviews.
One of the biggest improvements is the melodic segments. In Dechristianize, the melodic parts seemed rather thrown in, just to make the songs less boring. This time around, the parts fit better, are more suited to the song and sound more thought-out.
Another improvement is the drum tone. One of the worst things about Dechristianize is how tinny the snare sounded during the gravity blast segments. The bass drums also sounded really clicky. On this album, the tone is greatly improved.
The bass is practically inaudible, so I can't comment much on it. It seems to follow the guitars pretty steadily.
Glen's vocals aren't as strong as Dechristianize, but he still delivers a powerful performance, as to be expected. The biggest problem is that his lows seem to have lost a bit of force and his highs are occaisionally delivered in a sloppy fashion.
The album still suffers from some of the problems that plagued Dechristianized. One of the biggest issues is that the album continues with the horrendously long songs that plagued albums past. One glance at the lyric sheet is testament to this fact, as you will see seven or eight stanzas of lyrics followed by: (repeat all verses).
If this album were condensed down to about 40 minutes, it would be a masterpiece, as most of the songs are really good, but the repetition and length leaves you bored.
One of the reasons that this album, like Dechristianize, is hard to get into is because the songs have a similar tempo. One gravity blast flows into the next, some of the riffs are indecipherable, and the drums are pretty samey.
Fortunately, the last half of the album has some tempo variety and, in my opinion, better songwriting. The Malmsteen cover is also well-done.
Overall, better writing and production make Icons Of Evil superior to 2003's Dechristianize. Though this band are masters at their instruments, the songs would be more enjoyable at half the length, and some variety in speed and emotion would help the album substancially.