Review Summary: While a great standalone album, “Iconoclast” fits tidily into Symphony X’s established sound.
15 of 17 thought this review was well written
If progressive music doesn’t really progress at all, is it still considered progressive? Or if something was so progressive once, is it still progressive after it has been recreated several times in a row? Symphony X may indeed be starting to run into this problem due to releasing many albums that only have very minor distinguishing factors between them. It is true that Symphony X are progressing, but in such a minute way that they aren’t going to drastically change any opinions about the band; Symphony X does what they do best nevertheless.
On a technical note, there are two different editions of this out now: a single-disc edition and also the extended edition, which includes three more tracks. Either way, the album is rather longwinded; the short version of the record is still over an hour. That kind of length is surely going to detract from the enjoyment that some get out of the album because so much of it isn’t exactly new ground for Symphony X. For a fan it is probably worth it to get the extended edition because it has some of the album’s better points on it (“Reign in Madness” and “Light Up the Night”).
If it is any indication of the music, the concept of the album is the good ol’ sci-fi plot of technology being the downfall of mankind; while very intriguing the first time, it has since become overused and comes off as uninspired. Musically the album runs parallel to its conceptual aspect. Symphony X does write pretty good music on the album, with several standout points that really make the record worth revisiting multiple times. Instrumentally the album is executed by a quintet of some of the most technically virtuosic musicians in the metal world today. Lyrically the album is anything a fan of power metal or progressive metal would really expect with enduring themes and the occasional cheese. All of these things put together seem like they would amount to a great album - and they do – but the record feels stagnant when put into perspective by the rest of the Symphony X discography. It has the fast, thrashy riffs, heavier, “Paradise Lost”-esque writing, and the more grandiose, symphonic-inspired arrangements that fans have loved but already heard.
But not all hope is gone. There are moments in tracks like “When All is Lost” that reach out from your speakers and shake you awake, moments that let you know that there is a host of greatness waiting to be unleashed. We can only hope that Symphony X will tap into these moments filled with potential and expand on them for the future – that would be, dare I say, what progressive music is all about. So in essence the album is like a good episode of a television show; related to directly to the previous episodes but having enough of a cliffhanger to keep fans on the edge of their seat for the next installment.
1. If you think a review is going to get hate when you post it, fix whatever is wrong with it. I don't know what makes you think this is some sort of controversial review but if it's because it isn't well written (which it isn't) then change it.
2. If you think the album is worth a 4, then give it a 4. I don't get these people who try to be objective and give it a lower rating. Give it what you feel and defend your opinion.
3. The opening conundrum is pointless.
4. An entire paragraph devoted to there being two different editions is ridiculous.
5. Never say "good ol'" in a review.
6. Never use good as an adjective unless you're really sure about it. Saying they write "good music" means nothing.
7. Other ideas like "with enduring themes and the occasional cheese" also mean nothing. Okay, what are these enduring themes?
8. There's one paragraph where you talk about the music and it starts off with admitted uncertainty. If you can't actually describe the sound of the album, don't write the review.
I'm sure I forgot something but fix stuff like this to make it a worthwhile review to read.
1. The main reason I thought this would get some hate was because I posted two in the same day.
2. The Point of a 3.5 instead of a 4 was that although I believe it is a good album, in the bigger picture the band really isn't going anywhere.
3. The opening conundrum addresses the stagnant nature of the record, which is mostly the point of this review.
4. If you read that paragraph you will discover that the point behind me saying that there are two editions is that both of them are long.
5. Good ol' is intentionally place to mock the science fiction concept that I describe immediately after its use.
6. You got me here - I'll admit that there is a better word choice that could've been used.
7. The enduring themes don't really matter. It's just about fitting the overgeneralized idea of power metal lyrics. This is, again, intentionally mocking the idea which is the reason for the more casual language.
8. Please point this out to me specifically as I don't know where I expressed uncertainty. I want to point out that it is kind of unnecessary to describe the "sound" of the album because it is essentially the same as other Symphony X albums.
And if you're at all familiar with Symphony X's previous material it is pretty worthwhile to read. It's short and gives you a pretty clear idea what you're dealing with.
I do however appreciate you taking the time to read this so thoroughly so thank you for the criticism.
I know what the purpose of 3-5 were, you don't have to explain it to me, I'm saying they shouldn't be there. All of these ideas could be stated clearly and concisely. I'm not trying to attack you or something, it seems like anytime I give criticism on a review people try to defend themselves. It doesn't really matter what I think, I'm just trying to give you help on improving your reviews. If the enduring themes don't matter then don't include the sentence. Every sentence should serve a purpose. The main issue I have with this review is that although it is a pretty short review it doesn't advance any points. If all the filler was cut out there would be nothing left.
Also I can't take you seriously if you could write that rebuttal to 8. The point of a review is to inform someone about the sound of an album and therefore whether the product may appeal to them. This is the purpose of a review not just an optional segment that sometimes has a place and sometimes doesn't. You can't assume that a reader of the review has listened to anything by the band. Imagine if I wrote a review for Now You Are One of Us by The Paper Chase and said "yeah it sounds like Hide the Kitchen Knives" as a throwaway sentence to describe the sound. Do you have any clue what the album sounds like now?
From this review I felt as though you could gather that the album was the following: fast, thrashy, heavy, gradiose, cheesy, and symphonically inspired. I also compared it to "Paradise Lost" and the rest of the band's general discography. To generalize more I said that it is what fans would expect from power metal. I mean it could be better described but it's not like a casual reader wants to listen to me babble on and on about every facet of an album.
When I said the themes didn't matter I meant that what the themes specifically were didn't matter. That information is relevant because it is helping with the description of typical power metal lyrics.
"I'm not trying to attack you or something, it seems like anytime I give criticism on a review people try to defend themselves"
^This is because you approach criticism with a very condescending tone. While your opinion may be very valid, you shouldn't believe that it is any more valid than anyone else's, and the way you word things makes it seem as though you believe that you are all-knowing. I really like that you give criticism because so many people don't, but there's no reason to be rude.
I don't see how they can go from an album like Paradise Lost where every single track is really unique with it's own personality, to this where most of it just runs together.
I really think they missed an opportunity to have fun with the whole man vs. machines concept. I saw very little in the way of any "mechanical" sounding percussion or extra layers to add atmosphere that they talked about in interviews. Probably my biggest letdown for the year so far.
"This is because you approach criticism with a very condescending tone. While your opinion may be very valid, you shouldn't believe that it is any more valid than anyone else's, and the way you word things makes it seem as though you believe that you are all-knowing. I really like that you give criticism because so many people don't, but there's no reason to be rude."
Just the nature of the beast really. By definition constructive criticism is meant to better the one receiving the criticism and I can't approach trying to help someone else better themselves if I consider myself on a lower or even equal level to that person. I wrote one review a long time ago and it's horrible, so I don't have anything great to my name, but I can still observe the common pitfalls in reviews that are present here. In the same way that you have to play a sport against someone better than you to truly better yourself, "condescending" criticism should be taken to heart to make future reviews of a higher quality. It's just that on this site people tend to not criticize others' reviews from a serious perspective because they can't be bothered to. If you were in a real artists' group where work was shared and critiqued you would receive much harsher words than I have given. It's because criticism is so sparse on this site that I sound extraordinarily condescending. If I must fill that role to give proper criticism then so be it. I won't make this an essay on how we are all condescending at the core, though I could certainly go down that route and write extensively about it. Don't you think that your beliefs are superior to those around you? Anyway I'll avoid it and stop writing, though if you think that I'm condescending then you haven't experienced nuanced criticism before. Mine was comparatively pithy and forgiving.
"If you were in a real artists' group..." - what kind of group are you even talking about? A group of music reviewers? Or....?
"In the same way that you have to play a sport against someone better than you to truly better yourself" - I disagree with this statement. Who did the very best 'player' in this instance play against to achieve the highest level of performance? They undoubtedly played against people better than them at one point in time, but eventually there had to be something which that individual had that put them over the top.
"Don't you think that your beliefs are superior to those around you?" - Completely disagree. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and who am I or you or somebody to say what is right or wrong. That is my belief on the matter, however you are entitled to your own. If you believe something so cynical as to say that everyone is condescending you have all the right in the world to think that.
"Mine was comparatively pithy and forgiving." - Just because your criticism isn't as harsh as some doesn't make it good. My main issue with your tone in your original comment was that you seemed really annoyed and sort of angry that you even read the review. You said it wasn't worthwhile to read, that it was poorly written, that parts of it were ridiculous and pointless, etc. Do you possibly see how that was slightly unnecessary to say to someone who wrote a music review as a hobby and not to mention is pretty new at it. If those are your opinions than that is fine, but I don't understand why you couldn't just phrase it a little more politely. Teachers have to criticize all of the time, and to me the teachers who actually made a difference knew how to deliver criticism so that I would get the point but not feel like a moron. This whole paragraph is getting pretty sappy, but what I'm getting at is that you can say what you feel in a better way. You have some great points in your criticism, but people would be much more willing to listen if they weren't reading a list of reasons they're an idiot.
OK, so you say basically (I am paraphrasing) that this album has the rougher sound of Paradise Lost plus the grandiose epicness of their early releases. As a fan, I would like nothing more than to hear SymX being both epic and rough. Do they pull it off? Or am I misunderstanding you? Or both?