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Δευτέρα 6 Ιουνίου 2011

Review: Symphony X - Iconoclast (Nuclear Blast)

With their latest "Iconoclast" release one of the most important Progressive Metal bands of our times return back in the pantheon of Prog Metal to take one of the leading slots. Four years after the "Paradise Lost" album and through a new label -Nuclear Blast that has done this grand opening on their roster by signing bands like While Heaven Wept or Symphony X, bands that you would not expect in the label's catalog some years ago-, the progsters return with a powerful and technically excellent album.

The -eleven minutes lasting- same titled track has been wisely chosen as the opening track of the album, listeener would get into the song from the very first parts of its bombastic intro and for the minutes to follow each and every part of the song would compose a magnificent Progressive sound puzzle, melodic parts, aggressive touches, great guitar leads and keyboards. It is for sure one of the album's best compositions. iI is followed by "the End Of Innocence" a track that has given to all of us a taste of the new album all those months that we have been waiting for it and now listening to it together with the rest of the album stuff, it is confirmed that it is one of the best songs of the record as well.

For one more time the listener will realize very clearly that this band does not have musicians who are giving an excellent technical performance playing their instruments but they are delivering pure inspiration to their music giving birth to very good songs, songs that are balancing between melody and aggression and it is a fact that band manages to keep a perfect harmony between their aggressive and melodic parts and believe me this is not a simple task to be done. I simply have the feeling that the aggression is probably the big focus in this album and songs like "Dehumanized" and "Bastards Of The Machine" are good examples.

"Heretic" has some of the greatest lead parts that Mike Romeo has played in the whole album, it is a good Prog tune with some modern touches here and there. "Children Of The Faceless God" is another perfect mix of aggression and melody, starting with another "modern" basic riff it will soon turn to a mysterious track full of agony with the voice of Mr Allen to be a clear tribute to the one and only Ronnie James Dio. Mentioning the vocals its almost needless to say that Ruswell Allen has done an excellent job and that is voice is one of the big trademarks of Symphony X, together with Mike Romeo and his brilliant guitar work.

"Electric Messiah" is one of the most storm-taking songs of the album, check the keyboards in this one, they are great, although that I got to point that the new album is mostly guitar driven with less keyboard parts compared with the previous Symphony X releases. Follower "Prometheus (I am Alive)" is one of the most adventurous songs of the album, it starts in mid tempo, it will soon get faster it has an excellent rhythm section based on the bass line of Mike LePond -who is the secret force in this band and has put his magical touch to the final Symphony X sonic puzzle- and the drumming of Mr Jasson Rullo -indeed he have delivered some excellent drumming in the whole album more aggressive than ever-, the dark chorus -again in mid tempo- of the song will stick into your mind and it is just in this part that Allen gives another great performance getting the song into a higher level.

The beautiful and melancholic "When All Is Lost" -my favorite together with "Iconoclast" and "The End Of Innocence" tracks- closes the album in an excellent way reminding me how this band sound when they chose the most melodic side of their music and well this is my big point in here: the aggressive touches of the previous "Paradise Lost" release have now turned to be the half of the basis in Symphony X music. This would not be something negative for the fans of today's Progressive Metal that is very often re presented in such a way -modern riffing, aggressive guitar parts and vocals and stuff like this-, but for me that I have put Symphony X on the my top 5 of melodic, Prog bands this is a musical evolution (?) that I can not totally catch. To put it more simply it seems that now the band is expressing its music both in melodic and aggressive ways, I am in the melodic part and this is just a personal opinion. I liked the way they handled some aggressive touches in the previous album using them mostly in an emphatic way. In this one there are some times when I really miss the melodic part of the band.

To sum things up I would repeat myself pointing that the album includes very good songs, the listener's interest will stay in high levels during the whole album, an album that is extremely technical, guitar driven much more aggressive than the previous ones but with a good balance between aggression and melody. This is Symphony X of 2011: one of the most excellent bands of our times, there is no doubt about this.

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