Symphony X

Whether you’ve been a fan since Paradise Lost or The Damnation Game, you know at least this one truth of Symphony X: everything they release is top notch. The winning combination of stunning technical prowess and flawless songwriting has yet to fail the Jersey boys, and they keep getting better with age. Iconoclast showcases this, drawing from and adding to the prog-power empire that Symphony X has built, brick by brick, with each release.

Maturation is inevitable with any long running band, and it’s apparent upon listening to Iconoclast that Symphony X has made aggression a staple in their repertoire. 2002’s The Odyssey was the beginning of the band’s journey into darker, more muscular territory, which they expanded upon with 2007’s Paradise Lost. But with Iconoclast, they’ve constructed even more of a precise, heavy hitting sound than ever heard before, while still maintaining the classic emotive sensibilities unique to Symphony X tunes.

“Iconoclast” is the quintessential modern Symphony X song, replete with a maze of clean riffs, commanding vocals, and a killer chorus. It’s also the point where listeners begin to hear subtle nuances from past albums creeping in, borrowing a bit from “Evolution (The Grand Design),” a masterfully crafted track from V: The New Mythology Suite. Likewise, “The End of Innocence” brings in Michael Romeo’s signature neoclassical guitar work, but blends it with an overall more straightforward vibe and, yet again, a powerful, soaring chorus.

Personal favorite “Bastards of the Machine” rips with a quick gallop and guitar/keyboard face-offs that hearken back to the days of Twilight in Olympus, where listeners got their first taste of man-meets-mechanism in “Church of the Machine.” The less quick but equally intense “Children of a Faceless God” leans on a groovier, heavier note, one that’s at times a bit more sinister than one would expect from Symphony X. And “When All is Lost,” Iconoclast’s version of the Symphony X opus, balances emotion, melody and intensity effortlessly, nodding to epics from The Divine Wings of Tragedy.

Always evolving as musicians and songwriters, the members of Symphony X continue to push themselves and the bounds of the group’s material, constantly seeking to create passionately crafted and uniquely intelligent music, and Iconoclast is their crowning glory. It is the band’s boldest, most fleshed out release to date, one that’s bound to grace year end lists and become a favorite in Symphony X’s impressive catalog. Symphony X have definitely hit their stride and seem incapable of writing sub-par material.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jodi Van Walleghem
June 22nd, 2011


  1. Commented by: thisblacksession

    Read the start of the second paragraph as “Masturbation is inevitable” and thought “wow, someone really does like this album”. My fine reading comprehension skills are not at their peak at such an early hour.

    That being said, I will definitely have to give this a listen– everyone needs a little over the top shredding in life.

  2. Commented by: legumbrera

    I have to listen this one!

  3. Commented by: Gabaghoul

    Excellent writeup, spot on. This is definitely their best since V (my favorite of theirs), and while the darker tone still doesn’t let these melodies soar like that album, it’s still way better than Paradise Lost. Gonna go listen to this some more now!

  4. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    Definitely one of their best efforts. Good review.

  5. Commented by: Storm King

    Man, has it really been over 10 years since I was buying Symphony X CDs as high priced imports? Time flies.

    I’ve seen some progressive metal fans get on this CD’s case for being either “too heavy” or “not progressive enough.” The former always amuses me, since if you chart Symphony X’s music through the years, even before The Odyssey, it’s been growing heavier on a CD by CD basis. Never understood what the problem was with a progressive METAL band being heavy anyway.

    As for the other complaint-I don’t really see it. True, the band’s music has gotten decidedly more direct, for lack of a better term, over the years, but I don’t see it as being less progressive overall. I think these people are defining progressive as being either the amount of harpsichord-like parts Michael Pinella plays, or the number of over 20 minute long songs on the CD. (Which is odd, because Symphony X has only a relative handful of songs over 10 minutes long anyway.) Listen to the title track and tell me this band isn’t capable of hanging in there with anyone in progressive metal for complexity.

    Iconclast is great stuff. It’s a step up from Paradise Lost, which I actually liked, is tear your face off aggressive and complex at the same time, and Russell Allen tears it up like he always does. This shit rocks.

  6. Commented by: faust

    Great, great album… and damn have these guys upped the heavy !! A truly worthy successor to the excellent “Paradise Lost”.
    Good review too !

  7. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I’ve started to sour on this album after only a couple of weeks, and even since my comment above… LOVE Iconoclast, best song on the album, and End of Innocence is very strong as well. But overall I think the album is missing the soaring melodies from the earlier albums like Divine Wings, Twilight or V.

    Yes based on the story/concept, this is a darker, more aggressive album but I think the enhanced chugga-chugga and Russell’s more gravelly delivery drags the band down, especially in the choruses.

    I’m still listening to the new Pagan’s Mind more than this, primarily because it’s so fantastically melodic (even if they too sacrificed some of the earlier prog as well).

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