Released: 2015, Metalbox Recordings
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Reviewing albums from genres you love can be a challenging task. Everytime a reviewer submits a less-than-positive review for an album in a beloved genre, it has the potential to be just another obstacle for a hard-working band to overcome. There is, however, the obligation to share views for peers so they can decide how and where to spend their hard earned money. And so it is with I.C.O.N. and their album "The Blacklist"; an obstacle and an obligation met. Let's break it down.
“A Room In Hell” is the opening instrumental. It's not a flamboyant track by any means but it certainly sets a nice tone for any metal album, building nicely into the second track. “Feeding the Negative” is that second track, and first with vocals. It's full-on traditional metal. The music is on point but the vocals hang steadily in the mid-range which creates an unmemorable song. That idea, "unmemorable song" will be frequently heard throughout this review. Track 3 is titled “Grindin’ Wheel”. It's a mid-tempo song that plods along with a sound that I’d expect to hear at a biker weekend; heavy but nothing I’ll remember at the end of the day. “I’m the Venom” is up next and by track 4 I’m finding that I have to force myself to pay attention to what’s going on. It’s certainly nothing bad but it’s hardly anything remarkable. I kind of hear Rage without the German greatness infused. At times, vocally, I also hear some Wrathchild America but none of the accompanying flair that came with that act. “Welcome to my War” continues the proceedings and the listener finds the track plodding along but not as dryly as previous tracks. In fact, to this point it's probably the most attention-worthy track. It’s good but still not great.
“Speak to your God”, track 6, finds the band descending into opening act status. Right about this time in the set I can imagine people starting to look at their phones to check how long until the headliner appears. Track 7, “Devil’s Blacklist” doesn't particularly help matters. It's a straight ahead heavy jam but at the end of the day it's purely background music. “Wrong Way Back” plays next and at this point, as a listener I’m starting to get a little annoyed that I’m hearing the same thing over and over and I still have more to go. That’s not a good sign for any album. Fortunes are about to turn slightly, though. “Man of the North” is up next and it's an instrumental track that offers some nice sounds. Dare I say this is so far the best track on the album? At the very least there's a change in sound that is certainly welcome to these ears. “Deconverted” follows and it's a nice enough track. Maybe I’m just re-energized from the instrumental track? In any case, my spirits are lifting a bit as I navigate the last few songs. “Drowning in Screams” ends the cd and sadly enough it takes until the last track to get to a truly energetic track that plays with its peers in 2015. "Drowning" is easily the best track on the cd and I hope for more like it in the future. But there’s a long way to go here. The band is musically talented but crafting a memorable song is the next task along with adding a great deal of vocal variance from track to track. That will be a monumental task indeed. I wish them luck.
Review by: Chris Marsh