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Really not that bad - 85%

Marcus Blue Wolf, November 10th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2007, CD, Century Media Records (Limited edition, Slipcase)

Okay, so I know I'm probably going into rather hot water with this one, but it seems just a bit odd to me that this album has garnered a love-hate response from the metal community at large, with mixed reviews left, right and center. For the most part, I can understand the majority of criticism the album has, while at the same time half I wonder if some of it is simply a knee jerk reaction to this being "Dechristianize Pt II". But I'm feeling rather brave today, so I'm going to jump in and give my two cents on the positive and negative aspects of this release.

First of all, as many have already pointed out, this album is the longest release Vital Remains have put out to date, which in my eyes is both a positive and negative, for two reasons. The first reason for this being is it has allowed them some room to pick up where "Dechristianize" left off, continuing to craft epic slabs of death metal with relentless blast beats and their signature neoclassical/Latin solos and musicianship. Of course, this is also this album's main downfall, because no matter how much acoustic licks and fills added to the chaos, one cannot sit and listen to this album without feeling as if this album was prolonged too much. I strongly feel like this album could have been a good 10-20 minutes shorter, I mean was the cover track really necessary after already giving us over a full hour of relentless roaring from Glen Benton and intricately stretched songs courtesy of Dave Suzuki? Not really, but it does at least give us an alternative of a relatively popular power metal track.

One the positive side, "Icons of Evil" has a lot less of the annoying elements from "Deschristianize". For starters, the guitars have a much thicker sound, and the drums aren't half produced to give the annoying plastic sound many people have commented. It's done well enough to sound raw but give the music a massive step up in overall heaviness and enjoyability in my opinion. Glen Benton sounds angry as ever, consistently delivering a solid performance throughout, although at times it does get a little bit repetitive, a bit more variety wouldn't have hurt, dude! The reintroduction of acoustic solos is a welcome change back to the days of "Dawn of the Apocalypse" and their previous albums, which Dechristianize lacked, and adds a little bit more variety to the formula.

There's not much for me to fault musically, since listening to the album in one or two track doses shows how much of a punishing work the band put out, it's just too damn long. The one thing I hate most about getting any album is when it starts to drag on and become background noise due to lack of variety and stretching the songs to their limit. I get it, you guys wanted to produce another album and push your limits, you just did it way too much. The intro track comes off as a little cheesy and overdone, you can only kick a dead horse so much before you have to go back to the drawing board and add something more original than the "CRUCIFY HIM!" theme now used for the second time in a row.

I don't really have any major criticisms of this album since, to be fair, it's not a terrible or even average album, it's pretty good, but frustratingly hovering near the "running out of ideas" section as well as being hampered by the issues I mentioned earlier. The band performed consistently and extremely well on this album, it's just a shame it ended up with as many flaws as it did, since this is some of the most punishing material they've put out comparable to "Into Cold Darkness" and "Dawn of the Apocalypse". Hence why I've scored this album an 85/100 instead of a 90 or 95. If you're a fan of this band then by all means buy this, but if you can't last more than 50 minutes, this probably isn't for you.

Final rating: 85/100