Iconoclast is the heaviest album Symphony X has released to date, and I perceive it as being a bit heavier than Paradise Lost. I do however see this album as a bit better than PL, because of the insane amount of singable choruses. I mean, choruses that are stuck in my head every night, even though I haven't that song for 3 days! That my friends, is what a hook is all about.
Iconoclast - Begins a bit on the power-metal side. You have all the elements here you expect from the Symphony X boys - dizzying time signatures, Russell's "growly" voice, a good chorus, and the return of something I've been waiting for - Pinella keyboard solo! This is a great way to begin the album.
The End of Innocence - Very catchy, and the first single released. Easy to see why. Great keyboard and guitar work abound in this one, and that catchy chorus again....
Dehumanized - Begins very Meshuggah-like. This is probably the heaviest Symphony X song to date, since it is a very industrial and thrashy riff, characterized by low-tuned buzzing guitars. Breaks into yet another catchy chorus. Seeing a pattern yet? This one is a bit more grinding, which is a nice change of pace from the speed-metal work seen in other parts of the album.
Bastards of the Machine - This one gets extra energy from the chorus chants towards the end, and sounds like a song meant to induce a riot. Rullo's drumming really sticks out as tasteful in this song. This one ends with a fantastic guitar and keyboard duo that is very tight and well-written. And what was that? A bass solo? Only for a second or so, but still nice to hear.
Heretic - this one is pretty good, but perhaps my least-favorite song on the album. That doesn't mean it's bad, and it is probably still better than most "good" songs on anyone else's album. This is another grinder, and sixteenth-notes galore from the guitar.
Children of a Faceless God - One of the catchiest songs on the album, and a bit more like classic Symphony X, which is a nice throwback. Great chorus and solo on this one.
When All Is Lost - this is quickly becoming my favorite Symphony X ballad of all time. This song is a nice change of pace for the album and we see elements not seen before, like some distorted B3 organ. This one begins with a lovely piano pattern, reminiscent of Tubular Bells...so a bit creepy, but still beautiful. This one reminds me the most of V in the chorus. Probably the most purely progressive song on the album because of the many feel changes, but so well-done that it is amazing. Ends with a great guitar solo and a powerful chorus that fades back into nothing, a la The Sacrifice.
Electric Messiah - the headbanger of the album in my opinion. Can't say anything bad about this, it is quick, brutal and heavy all at the same time.
Prometheus (I Am Alive) - this is another one reminiscent of V just a bit. Many instrumental layers, but with very growly vocals overtop. Some nice feel changes and time-sig changes in this one.
Light Up the Night - Russell reminds me of Dio on this one quite a bit. Soaring vocals, dizzyingly fast instrumental work in sections. The drum intro is another area where Rullo really shows off, which is quite nice to see since in the past he pocketed the rhythms so much it was hard to see his creativity.
Lords of Chaos - This one begins with a grungy triplet feel. This one is one of my least- favorite, but still very catch and can't keep the chorus out of my head...
Reign in Madness - Ah, the intro is so 80's! But it very quickly gets fast and heavy a few seconds in, and we are back in familiar territory (in a good way). This song is pretty epic, and has some of my favorite vocal melodies by Russell. The song evolves into a very power-metalesque chorus, complete with choral background vocals. Then it gets very interesting - the feel changes and it slowly changes into fantastic moment with the acoustic guitar and piano playing off each other. Pinnella does a great job laying down some atonal atmospheric piano riffs. This evolves into some great keyboard and guitar solos to wind this one down. Very reminiscent of Divine Wings in moments, and ends with the big chorus. Great way to wind this album down.
I consider this a masterpiece of progressive metal because EVERY element is present and well-done: amazing vocals in many styles, fantastic technical riffs and solo from the guitar, great keyboard atmospheric work and solos, solid bass lines that make it all just a bit heavier, and the best drumming ever on a Symphony X album. The mix is also very clear, and with customs in my ears, I can hear every single nuance in the mix. Some have said that the bass is still too low, but I disagree. I can very easily place the bass lines, and the keyboards seemed to have come up a bit in the mix compared to Paradise Lost. This is the modern masterpiece by Symphony X! It stands on its own as being an amazing work of progressive metal, and even though it is different than past releases, it deserves to be known for the amazing standalone work that it is.