Symphony X are one of those bands that everyone goes “Yeah, I really think I’d like them” and then never bothers to do anything about it. They gained major attention with 2007’s The Odyssey, and they’ve just finished a high profileUK tour, where they aired some of the new songs from their latest record.
Taking a new spin on the classical concept album template of taking on past events, Iconoclast very much deals with the cyberisation of the future. Romeo’s guitars thunder through with a metallic urgency and thick bass as the title track roars out. Symphony X’s new sound, or at least the sound they trademarked with The Odyssey feels and sounds great considering the subject matter they take on. Their earlier work always sounded a bit ‘thin’, whether or not it was down to recording technology is by the by, Iconoclast sounds as cutting edge as the story it tells.
Modern progressive metal has had a tendency to be a bit high brow, but album highlight Children Of A Faceless God ‘s relentless groove pins down Russell Allen’s roar in the chorus with a truly titanic hook that befits his voice alone. It’s very unfair to call it plagiarism, but at times the Fate’s Warning and Dream Theater influences shine through incredibly, but never to the point that it sounds like blanket copying. Another interesting facet of the vocals is that it switches viewpoints through the album, from the dehumanisation of the world in…uh, Dehumanized, to the final revelation of the artificial intelligence of being alive in Prometheus.
From a band that are so accomplished musically, it’s a bit difficult to see why they’ve been so overlooked until relatively recently. As much as it’s not the easiest music to get into, Symphony X have brought their A-game to Iconoclast and it excels. Top job lads, now get Russell Allen to go “HYYEEEEAH!” again.