Artist: Icon of Sin
Album: Icon of Sin
Label: Frontiers Records
Release Date: 16 April 2021
Digital Price: 9.49 USD
Genre: Traditional Heavy Metal
As a lifelong fan of the Doom franchise, especially the game Doom 2, I am a sucker for references to anything from the series. Icon of Sin is a new band headed up by Youtuber Raphael Mendes, suitably named for an entry in the new wave of traditional heavy metal – a renewed interest in the oldschool metal that the soundtrack for Doom 2 was heavily influenced by. That brings us to Icon of Sin’s self-titled album, Icon of Sin.
The new wave of traditional heavy metal that, in 2021, we are in the midst of has led to some great, fun, oldschool sounding stuff that does not feel played out, silly, or like a parody. Brazil is clearly no stranger to this movement, and lead singer Raphael Mendes, known for his YouTube series ‘What if Bruce Dickinson Sang For…’ is perfectly suited for this sound owing to his voice’s uncanny resemblance to that of Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden).
Make no mistake, though – while Mendes initially made his name imitating Dickinson, with Icon of Sin Mendes has created his own sound. That there is a clear influence from Dickinson is no surprise, and to be fair – it would be difficult to find a modern metal band that has not been influenced by Iron Maiden in some fashion. Rainbow was a dead ringer for Deep Purple, Dream Theater has obvious shades of Rush, and Metallica has clear influences from Motorhead and Dio.
Beyond Mendes, there is also Caio Vidal (Ankhy) on bass, CJ Dubiella (Hell Gun, Thou Shall Not, Wicked Razor) on drums, Mateus Cantaleãno (Murdeath) on guitars, and Sol Perez (Semblant, Vulture of Corpse) also on guitars. All do a good job creating that traditional heavy metal feel, although there are definitely aspects of Icon of Sin’s instrumentals that feel modern at the same time. For instance, the guitar work throughout the album, especially in its solos, tends to be a little more technical than one might expect from a traditional heavy metal band.
Tracks like The Last Samurai in particular give us that sound, with riffs that veer into being more technical while never straying so far that the song enters the realm of progressive metal. The Last Samurai is perhaps the farthest Icon of Sin ventures from traditional heavy metal, but that is by no means a bad thing as it gives us a taste of just how great Icon of Sin could be with some further growth. There are also tracks like Virtual Empire that go more towards an old speed metal type of sound, and Night Breed were Icon of Sin ventures into power metal territory, Mendes never having difficulty the entire time.
Of course, some tracks are a clear homage to a particular era or sound. Mendes’ vocals in Icon of Sin are a dead ringer for Bruce Dickinson, and the track itself is intended as a homage to the Doom games with its lyrics about the minions of hell. Road Rage sounds a little more like a Rainbow track with some Dio influences, while Survival Instinct and Arcade Generation giving us more of that maiden feel. CJ Dubiella’s drum work throughout all of this maintains that catchy cadence that oldschool heavy metal drummers all seemed to capture. That works quite effectively here too because this is a fairly drum-forward mix and leads to some delightful results.
Overall, Icon of Sin has produced a great debut album. It is a little long for a traditional heavy metal album at 65 minutes, but there are a variety of great tracks here that will have you listening over and over again. Icon of Sin is another great example of an up-and-coming band from Brazil that, while it has quite strong musical roots in Iron Maiden and other classic heavy metal bands, has elements throughout that demonstrate the great potential of this band. In time, Icon of Sin could become a big name in the metal world with their own sound merging old and new, and in the meantime they prove with this self-titled release that Brazil has the chops to be leaders in the new wave of traditional heavy metal.
I hope you enjoy Icon of Sin.
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