REVIEW: Iconoclast – HalluciNation [2016]

Hallucination

Artist: Iconoclast

Album: HalluciNation

 

These days, the general public has more in common with a herd of sheep than they do free-thinking individuals. Many are lead blindly by religious fanaticism—ignoring many things that are tangible and real in favor of the fantastic and spiritual. Some are more preoccupied with politics—pledging undying allegiance to a leader who spews nothing but misdirection and distrust. The ones who don’t choose something that appears to be more free and individual, but in reality is just as enslaving as any political or religious ideology: consumerism. Obsessions with technology, social media and pop culture blind the masses from what is important, plugging their ears and blocking their eyes—until, that is, the debut full length by Australian deathcore act Iconoclast hits the airwaves. HalluciNation is a charged, crushing display of technical death metal and hard-hitting deathcore fused together into a deafening, demolishing explosion of an album. With scathing, sinister riffs and skin-shredding blast beats that segue into bold breakdowns and bone-shattering slams—broken up with just the right amount of atmosphere—Iconoclast have crafted a dense, devastating full length release for fans of extreme metal and extreme heaviness to sink their teeth into.

Iconoclast provide no shortage of instrumental ingenuity throughout HalluciNation. With barbaric breakdowns reminiscent of Thy Art is Murder, portions of progressive shredding a la Nexilva and slams that align themselves well with those of Slaughter to Prevail, this crushing quintet cover all their bases when it comes to oppressing the listener with an onslaught of brutality. Starting with the powerhouse Percussionist Tim Stelter, the band values diversity and devilish skill above all else. Kick-starting “The Virus of Faith” with deep atmosphere that quickly soars into spastic speed, Stelter oscillates between belligerent, fill-heavy patterns and cymbal-heavy, dark and brooding background sound to give Iconoclast’s more melodic moments a bitter, blackened edge. “Nihilist” sees Stelter leaning more towards simplistic—albeit effective and monstrous—brutality, bludgeoning the listener with thick, cannon-like kick drums while bassist Chris Van Zwam plunks and plods away alongside him. Rather than obfuscated below layers of downtuned guitars, Van Zwam can often be heard easily in the mix, racing to keep up with Stelter’s racing kick drum. This is as true in “Nihility” as it is in “The Virus of Faith” and “New World Slaughter,” as Van Zwam’s bass is an important foundation for the riffs, grooves and chugs from guitarists Cody Brooks and David Wilder. Brooks and Wilder take a nearly 50-minute album and absolutely dominate it, flooding the listener’s head with furiously fretted riffs and grisly grooves that spontaneously decay into deafening breakdowns or explode into eviscerating slams. “New World Slaughter,” as well as “Hollow Mask” fully display Brooks and Wilder’s talent—as the two longest tracks on the LP, they are the prime examples of the duo’s excellent songwriting ability, as well as their diversity and ability to create breakdowns and verses that are equally catchy and skull-crushing.

When it comes to creating an album that is closing in on an hour long with a constant swarm of stellar-yet-sinister instrumentation, Iconoclast have done nothing but excel. With strong musicianship accomplished, the album’s replay value and ability to stand out among the efforts of Iconoclast’s peers falls on the capable shoulders of frontman Mitch Macari. Macari takes on this daunting task, and much like the musicians on HalluciNation, dominate it. Macari uses a sprawling variety of screams, shouts and bellows to hammer the message behind HalluciNation home, using more than enough diversity to wake the listener from a monotony-induced coma. With seemingly limitless styles and vocal patterns at his disposal, Macari roars over the entirety of HalluciNation, to a point where even if you don’t enjoy his extraterrestrial gurgles on “Dissimulate,” or the harsh howls in “Awaken,” you have to admire his endurance. Macari’s vocals give listener’s something new for every track, such that even if the band’s dense instrumentation becomes too much to handle, his vocals are always refreshing and invigorating.

For a band that has been quiet since their breakout EP, it seems unlikely that “too much” content would be an issue Iconoclast would face. However, the only stumble that arises in HalluciNation is that, for those who are not veterans or fanatics of heavy music, the album may be a little overzealous. The better part of an hour with only scant breaks in Iconoclast’s onslaught, HalluciNation is not for the faint of heart. Some portions of some tracks begin to sound regurgitated by the time the listener reaches “Seditionist,” as getting through the whole album in one listen can be a chore unless the listener is multi-tasking. However, a track-by-track dissection of Iconoclast’s debut full length reveals the true level of its mastery, as practically every song sounds gargantuan and gut-wrenchingly heavy on an individual basis. With stand-out anthems like the lead single, “New World Slaughter” and heavy-hitters “Nihility” and “Born of Malice” contrasted by progressively-inclined “HalluciNation” and “Vincere et Servitutem,” Iconoclast’s HalluciNation remains a relatively varied release more than explosive enough to wake a bored heavy music fan out of their slumber.

 

8.5/10

For Fans Of: Oceano, Thy Art is Murder, Signal the Firing Squad, I, Valiance, Aversions Crown

By: Connor Welsh