In spite of the countless breeds of hardcore that have gained traction in recent years, one can still see two distinct approaches emerge — the positive and the negative. England's ICONSBURN operates deep within the latter school of thought. Their debut EP For All We Lost features five of the most disturbingly malefic songs released during the summer months.
"Symbol of 8" comes barreling out the gate with the ferocity of Bless The Martyr-era Norma Jean and the claustrophobic atmosphere of Zao's Liberate Te Ex Inferis. ICONSBURN hits hard with jagged riffs and lurching rhythm, but a seething undercurrent of dread makes it as haunting as it is brutal.
Even so, "Hand of the Scribe" proves the EP's catchiness, juggling several sticky riffs bolstered by nasty drum grooves. Dissonant syncopation and unabashed rock'n'roll flair help provide variety, but when this band breaks down, they break down hard. Come expecting bash with the flash.
Though its noisy production may challenge some listeners, For All We Lost maintains diversity and clarity in its feral aggression. The mix could definitely use more drums, but the mastering allows tracks like "Make Your Peace" to remain chaotic and brutish while its eerie guitar strains get under the listener's skin. This track also emphasizes the most memorable aspect of this EP — the vocal performances.
The snarls, shrieks and growls on For All We Lost are nothing short of bone-chilling, with lines like "the funeral pyres will light up the sky" translate with arresting vitriol. This approach ties together otherwise familiar passages on "Once Again" with harrowing grit. Balancing intelligibleness and obscurity, the vocalist in this band sports a lot of intuition as he jumps from emotive sing-screaming to demonic howls.
Arguably the most melodic track on the album, "Shades of Slumber" closes things out with anthemic hatred. With no loss of momentum, ICONSBURN brings the groove and the sludge charged with Lamb of God-esque guitar leads. The technical nuances of this release are a welcome addition to its reckless abandon.
BOTTOM LINE: It certainly wouldn't hurt if For All We Lost had more punchy production, but in the end its rawness stresses its unbridled hate. The Stonehenge-based five-piece comes and goes brandishing inverted crosses. Those who like their hardcore tight and catchy, yet violent and evil, will certainly find the next 24 minutes excruciatingly rewarding.
STANDOUT TRACK: "Make Your Peace"
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