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4.18 | 81 ratings | 15 reviews
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Album · 2011


1CD Version:

1. Iconoclast (10:51)
2. The End Of Innocence (5:27)
3. Dehumanized (6:48)
4. Bastards Of The Machine (4:56)
5. Heretic (6:25)
6. Children Of A Faceless God (6:21)
7. Electric Messiah (6:14)
8. Prometheus (I Am Alive) (6:47)
9. When All Is Lost (9:10)

Total Time: 63:10

2CD Version:

Disc 1:
1. Iconoclast (10:51)
2. The End Of Innocence (5:27)
3. Dehumanized (6:48)
4. Bastards Of The Machine (4:56)
5. Heretic (6:25)
6. Children Of A Faceless God (6:21)
7. When All Is Lost (9:10)

Disc 2:
1. Electric Messiah (6:14)
2. Prometheus (I Am Alive) (6:47)
3. Light Up The Night (5:04)
4. The Lords Of Chaos (6:10)
5. Reign In Madness (8:38)

Total Time: 82:51


- Russell Allen / vocals
- Michael Romeo / electric and accoustic guitars, orchestral keyboards, programming
- Jason Rullo / drums
- Michael Pinnella / piano, keyboards
- Michael Lepond / bass

About this release

Release date: June 17th, 2011
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Artwork by Warren Flanagan

Released with a 2 CD edition at the behest of Nuclear Blast, but it is the album as Symphony X intended. Romeo said "Reign in Madness" is the proper close to the album.

Thanks to UMUR for the addition and The Angry Scotsman, colt, adg211288, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

2007’s ‘Paradise Lost’ is, in my opinion, one of the heaviest albums of all time, and having developed their sound over the years from a neo-classical progressive metal act to an extremely heavy, almost power metal-sounding band, it seems Symphony X have settled on a style that suits them perfectly, as ‘Iconoclast’, the bands eighth studio album, released in 2011, follows on from its predecessor as a possible candidate for one of the heaviest albums you’ll ever hear.

What makes Symphony X so heavy, you ask? While people measure heaviness in different ways, in my opinion, it’s the “weight” of the music. The production and the sound, and in this case, the massive and beefy-as-hell guitar riffs. ‘Iconoclast’ is like a ten-ton hammer crushing a thousand skulls at once, and incredibly, despite the sheer intensity and brutality, the album is full of wondrous and beautiful melodies too.

Taking the energy of power metal and the songwriting arrangements of progressive metal, Symphony X’s music is very upbeat and ambitious. With complex orchestrations and masterful musicianship, these guys are at the top of their game, and on par with the genres finest musicians. In particular, guitarist Michael Romeo and vocalist Russell Allen have an absolute synergy rarely seen these days, with Allen’s incredibly versatile range being a perfect match for the guitar riffs.

Released on two discs, or as a one-disc edition for people not willing to spend too much dollar (I wonder how many people actually bought that one), ‘Iconoclast’ is an incredible album with very few flaws. With absolute monstrous beasts such as ‘Electric Messiah’, ‘The End of Innocence’, ‘Bastards of the Machine’, ‘Dehumanized’, ‘Children of a Faceless God’ and ‘Reign in Madness’, this shows that, while Symphony X may not feel inclined to do many classically-inspired prog epics these days, they’ve refused to relent with age, instead, getting heavier and constantly finding ways to update their sound and remain relevant.

‘Iconoclast’ belongs in every metal fans collection. Simple.
"Peace Sells"-era Megadeth with Ronnie James Dio on vocals, everyone on steroids. A cyborg keyboard player whose voice is what he plays. That's my impression of this album.

My initial impression was not so warm. "V: The New Mythology Suite" was my introduction to Symphony X and I loved that album. So I had high expectations. The first comments I jotted down were not very flattering. The first song, "Iconoclast", includes a choir and a symphony and it's a powerful, heavy, and great song with which to kick off the album. The music is heavier and far more intense than anything from "V".

The next five songs are all excellent metal tunes: fast, furious, brutal, and intense. Like an avalanche that can halt in an instant and become a bulldozer or a quick flourish or artillery assault and then back to an avalanche. The guitars are fast and change from charging riff to machine gun spray of notes to battering thunderous riff. The drums are incredible at abrupt rhythm changes, speed, and unanticipated restraint. The keyboards not as prominent as on "V" but when they are, they're very suitable with a mechanical sound and rarely pretty or delicate.

Russel Allen's vocals sound beefed up compared to ten years earlier and he manages some great Dio "Aahhh-ohh-oh" hollers. But after five excellent metal tracks, the progressive and symphonic aspect seems to have been abandoned. "When All Is Lost" makes up for it by bringing back the real piano and acoustic guitar and the softer melodious side of the band while still being heavy. This one song is where the band really flex their symphonic muscle and shades of "V" flicker by, reminding us that this is the same band. More of this would have made a more symphonic progressive album, but I've really come to love the heavy side.

Of course I had to buy the double disc. I heard the record company wouldn't release the double album unless a single disc would also be released simultanneously, their logiic being that sales would be better if some members of the public were only willing to shell out for a single disc.

The second disc continues with what we've heard mostly so far: 6-minute fast and furious metal tracks. There are more excellent songs and to be clear each song has its own unique opening so that there's no confusing one for another. I just feel the overall atmosphere of brutally sharp and tight heavy metal remains unchanging. "Reign in Madness" is a longer track so once again there's more room to stretch out the song and add some acoustic guitar and piano. Nothing pretty like "When All Is Lost". The piano here is haunting and the guitar riff heavy. This part is a brief interlude in the otherwise intense track.

A few final words, Allen's vocals remind me also of Luke Easter of Torniquet. There's good melody in the tunes, so it's not just savage shouting or hoarse singing. The music is heavier and beefier with more weight than "V". Though a bit disappointing at first, I now enjoy the album. The sound is well produced; it's not dense and muddy like many heavy albums. Everything is pumped but clear. The guitars and drums work together to emphasize one another and add power to the riffs and playing.

As a metal album, I'd say this one really delivers. For a symphonic/progressive metal album, I think it could use a little more like the title track, "When All Is Lost", and "Reign In Madness".
Iconoclast continues Symphony X's experiment begun in Paradise Lost of refreshing their sound by steering their power-metal flavoured progressive metal approach away from the seas of cheese and plumbing the potential of the style to explore darker themes. It's another success and is also rather accessible - there's an Iron Maiden tone (circa Seventh Son of a Seventh Son) to some of the material which I think really helps support the sort of material they're tackling here.

The set offers up a thematic concept album surrounding the idea of machines taking over humankind Terminator-style, and whilst the concept may not be very fresh (remember Black Sabbath's Dehumanizer?), the material is - to the point where the 2CD version of the album flies past as though it were a 1CD album, a sure sign that this is one of those rare double albums which isn't afflicted with filler. On that basis alone it deserves a thumbs up, but the fact that it builds so successfully on the advances made on Paradise Lost makes it a real gem in the Symphony X discography.
While this may not be my favorite Symphony X album, I think it might be the first I'd recommend to Metal fans of other sub-genre's, though the jury is still out between Iconoclast and Paradise Lost. As a fan of all things Progressive, my favorite tracks on the album are the title track, and When All Is Lost. While Symphony X does still show off their Progressive creds in those two tracks, the album as a whole is possibly their darkest to date, and has more Power Metal elements, with an often mechanical feel (to go along with the subject matter of the lyrics). As such, this may be their most widely appealing album, and would be one I'd be proud to recommend to a fan of other Metal sub-genres. The opening track, Iconoclast, is a great introduction to the band for anyone who hasn't heard them - kind of summing up everything they're about. It opens with a bang, with some very heavy, speedy, dark, complicated riffs. This complex/heavy feel dominates the 11 minute epic, and is sure to appeal to both fans of their dark side and fans of their complex, progressive side. And the album (or the first CD, if you bought the 2 disc version) finishes with another epic - When All Is Lost. This one has a much lighter feel to start out, but builds to a fantastic crescendo, and contains some impressive instrumental sections where SX shows off their technique of layering instruments with different rhythm patters on top of each other. Throughout the disc, Russel Allen's vocals shine - his vocals are always pure man, and I've always considered him to be one of the top Metal vocalists.
'Iconoclast', an album that ignites Symphony X flame again after sleeping in silence for 4 years. Russell Allen was busy with his duet with Jorn Lande last year but eventually return with a mighty blow, delivering a prog/power beast that perhaps could be their masterpiece to date. If you remember how awesome Blackmore and Lord performed a lethal guitar/keys duel back in Deep Purple days, now you can witness how Romeo and Pinella relive that moment, bringing back the enthralling show of two maestros exploiting their instruments to the max, like a fearsome bluster sweeping off everything in front, grand and exquisite.

The first tune, the title track, is a monster, the longest track with megablast intro, the guitar is dominating at first but eventually keyboard part was given an equal share later on. A powerful and majestic song and also my fave. 'The End of Innocence' is driven by keyboard and also another brilliant song. 'Dehumanized' and 'The Lord of Chaos' apparently are the average track here but still quite good.

'Bastards of The Machine' is a traditional American power metal with thrashy groove, showcasing Pinella's keys virtuosity. 'Heretic', on the other hand, is Romeo's piece, the riffs are awesome and the instruments expert handling here is applauding. 'When All Is Lost' is a piano epic ballad, a great one and reminds me to Savatage.

'Electric Messiah' and 'Reign In Madness' are two massive tracks that will entice you to purchase the 2CD limited edition. 'Light Up The Night' is another gem, the riffs are groovy and the whole track is perfectly executed. Allen vocal is furious, ferocious, and absolutely wonderful, and together with the combo of guitar and keys are the highlights of 'Iconoclast'.

An A++ record, simply stunning, and clearly deserved to have a place in everyone's home.
"Iconoclast" is the 8th full-length studio album by US progressive power metal act Symphony X. The album was released in June 2011 by Nuclear Blast Records. "Iconoclast" is available in two versions. A one-disc "regular" version and a two-disc special edition digipak with three extra tracks. Apparently the two-disc version is how the band had envisioned the album but the label wanted a one-disc version too. "Iconoclast" is a concept album where the lyrics evolve around the "man against machine" theme. It´s a thematic concept rather than a storyline that goes through the entire album.

So how does Symphony X sound 4 years after the release of their arguably most heavy and aggressive album to date "Paradise Lost (2007)"? Well first of all they lost none of the heaviness that characterized the music on the predecessor but they´ve succeeded in combining the extreme heaviness with a more melodic and memorable approach too. I can see some of the fans that turned away from the band because of the aggressive approach on "Paradise Lost", returning to the fold. The keyboards have a much more prominent role in the music again even though Michael Romeo´s groove based and hard edged guitar riffs and Russell Allen´s raw and powerful vocals dominate as usual.

Even though most people will probably want to purchase the two-disc digipack version of the album to get the three extra tracks and hear the album like the band intended it to be, I actually think the one-disc version contains the most important tracks. Out of the three bonus tracks the only track I really miss on the one-disc version is "Reign In Madness". Both "Light Up The Night" and "The Lords Of Chaos" are great tracks too but held up against the material that is featured on both versions both of those tracks do come off as high quality filler. The two tracks "Electric Messiah" and "Prometheus (I Am Alive)", which appear on disc 2 of the two-disc version of the album along with the three bonus tracks, can also be put into that catagory. I know it sounds spoiled to call quality material filler but the rest of the tracks on the album are simply of such an outstanding quality that it´s hard not to notice the difference. From the symphonic and progressive opening title track to the raw and heavy "Bastards of the Machine", "Dehumanized" and "Heretic" to the clever and epic closing track "When All Is Lost", the album is one long amazing journey.

So if you like your progressive power metal as raw and heavy as possible yet with a rare melodic sensibility delivered by exceptionally well playing musicians and packed in a powerful and clear production, "Iconoclast" is the answer to your prayers. It´s not like we´re introduced to anything new on the album or that Symphony X reinvent themselves, but "Iconoclast" is one of those cases where a band takes all the good things from their previous albums, put them into a stew and make sure that the outcome work wonders. I´m not sure the album is THE essential Symphony X release but it´s damn near the top of the best albums the band have released so far. A 4.5 star rating is well deserved.
The Block
So far this year one of my most anticipated releases already turned out to be a dud. That is definitely not the case here. Iconoclast is perhaps one of my favorite albums by Symphony X, with V: The New Mythology Suite at the top of the list. Since V was my introduction into Symphony X it will probably stay at the top of my list, but Iconoclast definitely comes in a close second. One thing I like about this newest Symphony X album is that it is really dark. V was very symphonic and grand, so to say, and then Paradise Lost was a little darker, and now Iconoclast is perhaps the darkest of them all, but is still like V in a way because of its grandness and dark symphonic melodies.

Being the fanboy that I am, I had to get the deluxe edition 2-CD set, and am I glad I did. The three extra songs (“Light up the Night”, “The Lords of Chaos”, “Reign in Madness”) are all exceptional, and I can’t imagine the album without them. My favorite of the three is definitely “Reign in Madness” which Michael Romeo, Symphony X guitarist, says “is the proper close to the album”. Also, of the three, it seems more symphonic while the others seem to be straight up metal. If you haven’t gotten this album yet, the 2-CD package is definitely the way to go; it also is some really cool packaging.

As always the musicianship is absolutely superb on this album. But, to most fans of the band this shouldn’t come as a surprise at all. The keyboards on this album, played by Michael Pinnella, are some of the best I’ve heard in some time, and the wonderful heavy, yet symphonic guitar work from Michael Romeo really backs up Russell Allen’s great vocals. As with most of Symphony X’s albums you can expect some cheese, but to me it actually adds to the album. Their sound is so original, and well thought out that the cheese, which there isn’t much of, makes this album all the better.

My favorite track of the album is “Children of a Faceless God”. I just love the riffs and melodies throughout this piece, and Allen’s voice is yet again superb on this track. This track is also a very original sounding power metal gem that combines both heavier riffs to go along with softer sounding choruses. Another great track is the prog epic “When All is Lost”. The organ work on this song is awesome, to say the least. This album definitely has enough to satisfy any power or prog metal fan out there. Through its 80 some minute play time it stays strong and never gets boring, ever.

I’m happy to say that Symphony X has put out one of the best albums of this year. There is no doubt that this is the best progressive metal release of the year, and definitely one of the best metal releases as well. It has everything a prog metal fan could want; great vocals, complex song structures, very clean production , and wonderful soaring riffs. 4.5 stars are well deserved here for this great album that has landed Symphony X as one of my top bands ever.
Since their formation in 1994, New Jersey-based progressive power metal band Symphony X has established themselves as one of the genre's most influential and important acts. With classics like V: The New Mythology Suite and The Divine Wings of Tragedy in their backcatalog, it'd be shocking for any prog metal fan to not be at least mildly familiar with these veterans. Iconoclast, the eighth album from Symphony X, is yet another top-notch release from Michael Romeo & company and possibly my favorite of theirs so far. Symphony X continues their trend into a heavier, slightly less progressive sound on Iconoclast and delivers a masculine prog power metal album filled with technical mastery, terrific songwriting, and spot-on execution. This album may even further alienate fans of the band's neo-classical roots, but I think that just shows what a versatile band Symphony X truly is. Eight albums into their career, and Symphony X is still evolving and even creating some of their best material ever. If you enjoy edgy modern prog metal, it's hard to go wrong with Iconoclast!

The music here is unquestionably Symphony X, but with a few extra notches of heaviness and very minimal neo-classical tendencies. Iconoclast is a very heavy album, filled to the brim with masculine guitar riffs and dark atmospheres, but still contains enough melodic sections and technicalities to satisfy any prog metal fan. The opening to the title track alone should rest any concerns that this is a straightforward metal album, despite the overall heaviness of Iconoclast. None of the songs here are particularly soft (melodic choruses aside), except for "When All Is Lost", an absolutely beautiful prog metal track featuring some terrific organ work from Michael Pinnella. Despite Iconoclast's near-83 minute playing time, it never loses any steam and remains powerful during its entire duration. I'll let that speak for itself for how strong the songwriting is here.

One thing worth mentioning are the two different versions of Iconoclast on the market. There is a 1-CD version containing 9 songs, and a 2-CD version containing 12 songs. If you're going to buy Iconoclast, make sure you get the 2-CD version! This version is the full album released as Symphony X originally intended. You're missing out on some great material if you get the incomplete single disc version.

Of course, when talking about Symphony X the musicianship is unquestionably terrific. Michael Romeo's powerful metal riffs, combined with the intricate keyboard work from Michael Pinnella, fantastic rhythm section of Jason Rullo (drums) and Michael Lepond (bass), and Russell Allen's top-notch vocals makes Iconoclast simply a joy to listen to. Russell Allen uses a rougher vocal delivery here than on previous albums, but he still sounds just as powerful and emotional as ever. The man is simply one of the most talented metal vocalists out there, and that's never forgotten on this album. Iconoclast also sports a sleek modern production that suits the music perfectly. This is a professional sounding album that just reeks with class, and the mix is also spot-on.

Iconoclast is yet another winner from Symphony X, and quite possibly their finest achievement thus far. Anyone who even mildly enjoys heavy-edged prog metal needs to get this in their collection - it's one of the year's best for sure. Iconoclast is an album filled with virtually everything that makes for a fantastic modern prog metal effort; fantastic riffs, sleek production, soaring vocals, and complex compositions galore. Though very far removed from the band's neo-classical power metal roots, Symphony X seems extremely confident in this new sound and have delivered a killer album to prove it. 4.5 stars are well-deserved.
Iconoclast is the eighth full-length album from US Progressive/Power Metal act Symphony X, which was released in 2011. Ever since The Odyssey (2002) the gaps between Symphony X albums have been quite long, and this is their first offering since 2007’s Paradise Lost. Like the last time, they’ve returned with a slightly new take on their sound. The album has been released in two editions; a one CD version which features nine tracks, and a 2CD ‘special’ edition which features a total of twelve, some of which are slightly re-ordered on this version. For reviews I normally base my judgement on the regular edition however in this case I intend to make an exception, as the 2CD version is actually the album as it is intended to be by the band. As far as I’m concerned if you’re holding a copy of this and there’s only one disc in the case you’re holding an incomplete album, and you need to take in back and demand your second disc! Now onto the review proper.

Symphony X is one of those bands that has never disappointed me. With perhaps the exception of their self titled debut since that didn’t feature long-time vocalist Russell Allen (who is pretty much a staple of the Symphony X sound), the band has never delivered an album that wasn’t at least solid to my ears (The Damnation Game), and most of the albums went beyond being solid into the realms of being truly exceptional (pretty much everything else). Even when they changed their sound a bit on Paradise Lost to be more heavy hitting than on earlier albums, especially in Allen’s vocals, they still managed to produce something amazing that sat just as well with their older material. With Iconoclast Symphony X continue going in the direction that Paradise Lost began, resulting of one of the heaviest albums in their catalogue.

The title track begins the record and is the longest track on offer. The guitar work in the intro is highly technical and progressive and to be honest would sound equally fitting in a tech death band as it does here. Russell Allen’s vocals however seem more in line with what he did on the older release rather than Paradise Lost. This is okay though, since this guy seems to be able to carry a record to perfection regardless of how he sings. The music is less symphonic than on earlier works as well, although of course the keyboards of Michael Pinnella remain and there are certain still some symphonic moments on the album, just not in so much of the limelight, so to speak. Also notable is the lack of neo-classical stuff, although guitarist Michael Romeo still delivers guitar work of the same calibre as before.

There are many amazing tracks on Iconoclast. One track I’d like to bring particular attention to is Reign in Madness. According to Michael Romeo this is the song that is the true closer to the album, as opposed to When All Is Lost, which closes the single disc version. While that song is another highlight as far as I’m concerned, Reign in Madness is notably completely absent from the single disc version, and as one of my favourites from Iconoclast, only strengths my view that the one disc version is a bastard of the machine that is the music industry. Seriously just get the 2CD, you will not regret it. Other amazing tracks include The End Of Innocence, Children Of A Faceless God, Prometheus (I Am Alive) and The Lords of Chaos.

While the amount of really amazing tracks by far outweighs those that aren’t, there are a few that don’t quite make it. They’re all still pretty good tracks though, ones such as Dehumanized and Heretic, but they do make Iconoclast one of the Symphony X albums that sits on what I’d consider the lower tier of excellence, that is to say this is still a mighty fine album worthy of an exceptional score, however there are a few releases in the Symphony X catalogue that make it all the way to the higher tier. But once again Symphony X fails to disappoint and Iconoclast showcases that even after eight albums and a seventeen year existence that Symphony X is still growing and finding new ways to hook us listeners with their progressive power metal.

Iconoclast is another excellent album under Symphony X’s belt. It’s likely to appeal most to those who preferred the sound on Paradise Lost the most, but I certainly think any Symphony X fan should be getting into their collection as soon as possible. Just don’t get the 1CD version.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 9.3/10)
The Angry Scotsman
Symphony X has done it again!

The New Jersey prog metal masters have proven that the key to continual success is progression. They continue moving in the direction from "Paradise Lost", a more metal direction. "Iconoclast" is the heaviest, darkest album Symphony X has ever put out, continuing to shed it's symphonic, neo classical elements. Indeed, the power metal style riffing, present on all their albums, is largely absent here, replaced with a mechanical style: heavy, angular, often groovy, sometimes disjointed and wild. There is some serious groove on this album. Adding to the mechanical feel is increased use of off tempo stuff, and more cold keyboard sound. The fantasy, mythological and epic lyrics are also gone, replaced with the grim theme of technology being our downfall.

"Iconoclast" is more straightforward and less outright progressive, though it is still there. Instead of varied sections, (though that does still happen here) the progressiveness is more subtle, mainly in the riffing and overall texture. It does take some time to really sink in, since at first it can sound a bit samey. "Iconoclast" really ups Rullo's drumming in the mix, it is loud and you can hear every hit. Thank goodness! His drumming is great as always, featuring more off tempo playing then ever. This may be Rullo's finest effort yet actually. Allen's vocals are also perfect as always. He maintains the lower, hard edged tone from "Paradise Lost". Needless to say: the riffing is awesome, the solos mindblowing and the song structures are subtle and well composed. Note: While a bit different this is clearly Symphony X, the sound is there and unmistakable.

The album begins with an 11 minute epic featuring some old Symphony x standards, including epic choirs. The title track pretty much contains it all. "The End of Innocence" contrasts the new mechanical feel with mid tempo thrash and soaring vocals, with some melodic and extreme groove sections thrown in and some synth sprinkling the background.

"Dehumanized" is perhaps the most brutal song on the album, complete with riffing and drumming to die for. Also, one of the best performances by Russell Allen. Really, there is no bad song on the album, and there's not even a weak one. "When All is Lost" is the Symph X ballad, and "Reign in Madness" is a synth laden song that really moves. When it first hits you the keyboard is odd (almost 80's sound), but damn it works perfectly. The parts with synth over crushing power chords, and Allen singing out to the heavens "Bow your heads and abandon hope, we're the gods of pain. Raise your hands if you'll join with us, and let the madness reign" can only be described as EPIC.

With "Iconoclast" Symphony X continues to move in incremental steps, producing a sound pretty different from their older albums, yet still identifiable as them. No doubt this is Symphony X. It is heavy, groovy, mechanical, sometimes very moving, sometimes soaring epically. Besides retaining their sound while moving forward, there are few weak moments from start to finish. At first it could sound a bit samey but every song is different, and there is more subtlety and texture than outright progressiveness. The guitar work is epic, drumming perfect, synth has its role, Allen's vocals are flawless, going where needed and never over doing it. Every member of this band is immensely talented, and they each can showcase it though rarely in virtuoso style, they also each know their place and every thing fits together perfectly. It's why I regard Symphony X as one the top metal acts of it's time, and hope with this album more will come to think so.

Superb Album


Oh and buy the 2 CD edition. It's not just leftover tracks and remixes, or some behind the scenes DVD, this version is the true album as Symphony X wanted. A greedy move by the label, but it is worth the little extra to get the whole CD! You'll be missing out otherwise.

Members reviews

After four long years the charismatic American progressive metal band comes back after a strong predecessor with more than eighty minutes of music. Already the first epic title track "Iconoclast" proves that the band has put all their technical skills, all their passion and all their creativity into this release. The title song varies a lot and every musician delivers the best he can without losing a clear line and forgetting about catchy passages. This song is probably one of the best songs this band has ever done and the album is worth to be named after this monster of an opener.

While many progressive bands lose themselves into long solo passages that are technically excellent but emotionally cold, Symphony X orientate on heavier structures and are sometimes more metal than progressive like in the really addicting "The End Of Innocence" or "Dehumanized" that have already been performed very well during the last concerts of the band. The good but too similar "Bastards Of The Machine", the darker and slower "Prometheus" which is one of the greatest tracks and the thrash orientated epic "Light Up The Night" that reminds of the older works of the band could also be great live performances and are three songs that stand out on this record.

One must especially underline the gripping and unique vocals that keep the pieces together and add many memorable passages to those shorter and straighter songs. While many progressive bands have excellent musicians but often rather limited singers, Symphony X can be proud to have one of the genre's best and most charismatic vocalists in their rows. He simply does an outstanding job on this record and impresses me even more than the musicians do.

The problem is that a few too many songs head for that heavier direction and some patterns are repeated for example in "Heretic" or "Electric Messiah" which creates sometimes a lack of experiments, surprises or changes in style. That's why I take off one point out of five for this technically brilliant masterpiece.

Russell Allen proves his skills once more in the only ballad of the record which is "When all is lost". The song lives from his powerful vocal skills and continues in the vein of the last album's brilliant title track. Within many overloaded, heavy and ambitious tracks, this one is a needed and yet breathtaking break.

Any fan of progressive music should buy the extended edition of the album that includes a total of three more songs and where the music has been separated to fit on two discs. I must underline the closing masterpiece "Reign In Madness" where the band shows once again all its skills and delivers an as detailed, diversified and gripping performance as in the opening title track and where the circle is closed in a suitable way.

The only problem with this album is that one simply gets delivered too much material. Many good songs get buried or lost beneath the mentioned masterpieces in over eighty minutes of music. This record requests several tries and much attention before it truly grows. I would have preferred if the band would have released an album with only eight tracks and would have released the other four ones with some new material one or two years later. Now, we have an overwhelming record and must nevertheless wait several years for the next great output and that's not the ideal solution by any meaning. I take off five little percent for this little mistake they have done in my opinion but add another percent to underline the positive tendency of the record.

In the end, we still have the best progressive metal record of the year in here and the bar is set quite high for the upcoming release of the American concurrence of Dream Theater. I must underline that I'm quite sure that the new release of Symphony X will eventually slightly grow above the rating I give today as there is not one truly single bad song on this album.
[review originally published on]

I’ve been toying around a while with the thought whether or not I should write a review of Symphony X‘ long awaited Iconoclast. Pro: it’s a fantastic album, full of mind-blowing material that’ll leave most of you in an enchanted, long-lasting gaping awe. Contra: when I say this is good, I mean it’s so damn great you can’t expect the tiniest shade of objectivity for the following few paragraphs.

But as the most perspicacious of you have already grasped, I eventually decided to do it. Although it is true I love the band to the point I can righteously call them my favourite (and I listen to a lot of stuff), threatening to seriously affect the natural bias anyone has just about anything, I can’t pass on the opportunity to give this stellar band their due, small as my contribution may be.

Moreover, (almost) unconditional love for a band accounts for higher expectations, and those in turn for a sharper critical sense. After a fair amount of spins, I can positively say I’m way past the adoring, kind of shocked “how did they come up with this AMAZING stuff?!” phase, and (closer to being) ready to write down something not all that biased. Iconoclast is truly an awesome piece of work, and once again the long wait (as for the previous Paradise Lost) has definitely paid off, but there are minor flaws I’ll also mention. So let’s get to it.

For starters: this review is about the double CD edition, as that’s what the band themselves consider the “true” album to be. As guitar hero/main composer Romeo had stated several times before, Iconoclast owes its birth to some material which was eventually left out of Paradise Lost. Far from being sort of a recyle bin for things past, it’s undeniable those echoes are present and very easy to trace for the band’s fans. The sound resulting from a very similar kind of mixing and producing process to that of Paradise Lost also enhances this impression (suffice it to mention Light Up the Night, perhaps the most blatant instance). That aside, the album still sounds fresh, as though what was “left out” of Paradise Lost has been worked on a lot, pondered carefully, and finally brought far enough not to make Iconoclast just sort of a lame follow-up to the previous album. Absence of haste in the process definitely helps explaining how that was achieved.

Iconoclast starts off this whole futuristic man-versus-machine concept with a very epic, solemn kind of incipit, with choirs à la first songs off Paradise Lost. The strong linear structure of the song, strenghtened by what can be argued to be the best solo lot of the album, already makes a case for it to be the best of the bunch. It’s also, in my opinion, the most fitting candidate to the title of (semi-)epic of the album, although When All is Lost and Reign in Madness, respectively at the end of each CD, do rival with it in lenght and “depth”.

Segue the two singles so far, The End of Innocence with its liquid riffage and the less catchy, though still strong, Dehumanized. As soon as they came out (before the rest of the album), fans were divided, their preference alternatively going to the former or latter. I’m calling myself out of the dispute and pretending I don’t also have a preference, by stating they’re both good and diverse enough to potentially please everyone. Bastards of the Machine, Heretic and Children of a Faceless God also confirm the impression one has already got at this point that Symphony X consciously decided to capitalise on Paradise Lost‘s greater catchiness than their previous work. The shredding and soloing of Romeo‘s is astonishing as ever, and though the days of masterful blending of classical music into heavy metal couldn’t seem farther off after a decidedly (and again: conscious) heavy shift, Symphony X‘ sound does still retain much of the glory days. The prog anima hasn’t been neglected either: tasty staccato shredding, square stop&go’s and perfectly timed tempo changes are all still there, right where they should be. Even echoes of Rainbow are to be heard (listen carefully to Children of a Faceless God and The Lord of Chaos‘ bridge). Symphony X have built on the “drift to the heavier side” which I personally loved about Paradise Lost (and some die-hard fan still can’t forgive them) but the sweet classical flavour hasn’t died away entirely, as the epic choirs stand to testify.

What has been left wanting, in my opinion, is the lyrics. I had grown accustomed to bigger efforts from Symphony X to put some kind of poetry into their lyrics; the last truly notable ones being those of The Odyssey. In that respect, Iconoclast is much lamer than anything they’ve ever written (lirically). This probably adds up to the augmented catchiness of it all, and was just as probably thoroughly thought of; still I can’t force myself to liking them. They convey kind of a sense of hastiness nowehere else present on the album. Still we’re far from the vast depths of the “sea of cheese”, so that’s minor issue really.

The first CD is beautifully closed up by a nine minute long ballad (with flashes of heaviness Romeo couldn’t help filling in), but there’s still a lot to feast your ears on on the second. Electric Messiah gives it a solid and sound start, followed up by Prometheus (I am Alive), a cool progression from slow to faster tempos on Romeo‘s familiar staccato guitar work. Light Up the Night and The Lord of Chaos stay true to the intended “simplification” of the overall sound, but on the other hand also serve as an example that it is possible to achieve it without going all four-fourths and braindead drumming. The songs’ structure is deep and articulated, whilst the sound is polished yet crunchy enough to justify Sir Allen‘s most aggressive vocals to date. A good example of different instances coexisting in harmony is the closing Reign in Madness, where an almost-80′s keyboard paves the way for much more modern riffing and (yet again) a catchy chours, right before it all slows down and then picks up the pace again towards the end.

THUS SPAKE THE CENNSOR: Simply put, a couple of minor issues aside, Iconoclast is pretty much an album for the ages. Or to keep our feet on the ground, for the next couple of years (I’m starting to hope it’ll take this long again before we get another Symphony X studio album… the equation time=care=good stuff has again worked very well). It’s still so very early, but count it atleast among my picks for album of the year. The same higher accessibility that seems to irritate the fanatics of their more baroque sound of old will actually do a perfect introduction to those (hopefully fewer and fewer) who don’t know the X yet. But be advised: it’s like entering a maelstrom. Symphony X still marks the spot for utterly enjoyable prog-scented, heavy shredding, epic folly. 9/10
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 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.
here i am reviewing the first album i've managed to get before its official release in my 20+ years of collecting music! being a big fan of SX, i did pick the 2-CD "special edition" which is only "special" because it has all the songs meant to be on the record...

"Iconoclast" for me would have been a 5-rater if it were by a band called "X" but i docked them the 1 star because its "Symphony X". let me explain why:

Romeo says when asked about the band's style "We are a metal band, we have progressive tendencies and incorporate classical ideas into the music." but "Iconoclast" is almost purely a metal album with a few twists thrown in for good measure.

dont get me wrong, the stuff is great - the songs Iconoclast, Dehumanized, Heretic, Children of a Faceless God, Electric Messiah, Prometheus, Reign in Madness are all fantastic and full of super riffs, powerful instrumentation and excellent vocals and When All Is Lost is a great "ballad" along the lines of The Accolade and Candlelight Fantasia but where is the symphonic brilliance of "V" and "The Odyssey" or even "Paradise Lost" (check out the songs The Walls of Babylon and Revelation (Divus Pennae ex Tragoedia)" ?

i would say 3.5 stars but give it ehe extra .5 simply because they are one of my favourite bands and i would like them to come back in a couple of years with something even better...

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