Review Summary: I'll stick with Dechristianize, thank you very much.
2003's Dechristianize could be seen as a comeback of sorts for Vital Remains, and the inclusion of Glen Benton, a household name in the genre, on vocals enhanced the band's profile. Everything present on Dechristianize, undoubtedly the band's magnum opus, is back, and so many consider Icons to be a sequel.
The album begins with a sample from The Passion Of The Christ which pretty much sets the bleak, nihilistic tone for the album. The title track of the album follows, and, clocking in at over seven and a half minutes, it is the epitome of the album. The song begins with the typical brutal death metal attack that was found on the previous release, and Dave Suzuki's lead guitar work takes over the song, offering some very nice melodies over the blast beats and Benton's glutteral vocals. At over seven and a half minutes, the song does drag on though, and with Benton sounding about half as impressive on he did on Dechristianize or on Deicide's Legion, the song remains monotonous and uninteresting past the two minute mark. As a result of extremely long running times, each song is unforgettable, and seems to flow into one another, leaving little to no impression on the listener.
The shortest track on the album (bar the cover or the introductory sample) Hammer Down The Nails is one song that does leave an impression, as Benton and Suzuki pull out all the stops. Suzuki's drumming here is absolutely fantastic and the guitar playing is heavy as fu
ck. The band cut to a half time section around the two minute mark that is absolutely punishing. The guitars chug along and Benton's vocals sound demonic, as opposed to the monotony that plagued the album's earlier tracks. Suzuki's solos don't last too long like they do on other tracks, which only enhances the song. The second half of the album follows suit and doesn't disappoint as much as the first half, only Benton still seems to be the weak link, lacking the energy found on Dechristianize.
Lyrically, Benton has always been a one trick pony - Here you'll find the usual anti-religious crap that he spews without giving a fu
ck. It was shocking on the first Deicide album, and now it's just tiring. Benton no longer comes across as a man angered by the religious world, now, after all these years, he comes across as a frustrated teen who's nearing the end of puberty.
Icons Of Evil is fu
cking boring. Long songs, if done well, can be used to explore different musical ideas and can see the band experiment with different ideas, but here, it seems as if Vital Remains are just repeating riffs one too many times in order to be Satanic - the running time of the album is 66:06 minutes, and that just comes off as silly and childish, contrary to what Benton would like us to believe.