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'The Blacklist'
(Metalbox Recordings)
Release Date: Monday 15th June 2015

Johnny Main

johnny main


I.C.O.N are a quartet who rely on their mutual love of heavy music and draw on these influences to produce their own heavyweight tracks that rely simply on the musicians skills to play their instruments as hard and heavily as they can.

'The Blacklist' is the band's second album, following on from their successful 2009 debut ops, 'New Born Lie', and it once again shows the group in fine form.

There are no gimmicks here – no fancy production effects and no left field ballads bemoaning the loss of love, or paying homage to someone long since dead – just eleven straight ahead Metal tracks guaranteed to get the blood pumping and the head banging.

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For me, the album can be split into three sections – the fast, the slow and the heavy! The faster numbers include song four - 'I'm The Venom' – which has drummer Larry Paterson intro using hi-hat cymbal to great effect while the guitar sound, courtesy of guitarist Scott Knowles, is placed at the back of the mix.

Once the main guitar riff cuts in, though, the song attains full volume and full speed. The guitar solo is really good, if a little on the short side, which is a minor critisicm on my part. For me though, it's one of the best tracks here, as everyone manages to get their moment in the spotlight. Oh, and it's a cracker of a song too!

'Deconverted' too, has Paterson working hard during the intro along with the guitar riff from Knowles, before the drums begin in earnest in what becomes a long drawn out intro but one that never lacks interest. One of the fastest numbers of all the tracks here, it may not have the heaviness of some of the other tracks, but it still manages to pack a punch.


The heavier tracks are amongst my favourites tracks. 'Feeding The Negative' is a full on Metal track with it's solid drums and heavy guitar riff, which, let's face it, is all you need really. Front man Mark Sagar's vocal inflection here is really good, and the chorus section has him sounding deliciously evil. The main guitar riff stands on its own in the middle section placed just before the guitar solo from Knowles which is, in itself, measured and concise.

'Speak To Your God' has Sagar's vocals sounding a little impatient as Paterson makes use of his drums and cymbals during the intro. To be honest, Sagar's vocal style and voice reminds me of (ex-Almighty and current Black Star Riders vocalist) Ricky Warwick with good solid vocals while occasionally, the gruffness of his voice comes to the fore as he holds the notes. Not by any means a bad thing to me, and a great performance overall. A minor criticism would be that the synthesised vocals before the guitar solo can be quite hard to make out but that's a very minor point - everything else here is top notch.

As far as slower numbers are concerned, these are amongst the best of the album, for me. 'Grindin Wheel' is a great example with the drums really coming to the fore. The addition of backing vocals gives the track a bit more body and with simple lines like "Burn" and "Destroy" shouted out with healthy abandon, it's bound to get the audiences fists punching the air at gigs whilst they sing along. Knowles produces a technical guitar solo in the middle showing his skill, but it doesn't dwell too much before the chorus comes round once again.

'Welcome To My War' is a fairly laid back number, by all accounts, but it still retains a heavy element to it. Once the build up is negotiated this slower paced number has Paterson steadfastly laying down the beat whilst the sweeping guitar chords make a nice change of sound. The guitar solo is short and as the long guitar note fades at the end, closing out another great tune.

With 'Devils Blacklist', "slow" and "heavy" are watch words here. The main guitar riff is reminiscent of the Sabbath classic, 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath', which is joined by Paterson punching out a solid beat during the long intro passage. When the lyrics do finally kick in they're short and to the point and are accentuated by the guitar riff as the song progresses. This is a true master class in producing a heavy song that takes its time and delivers on all counts, and that why, for me, it's the best the band have to offer here.

All in all then, there's a lot to like about this album, and with the bands gig diary filling up fast I'd highly recommend you do your best to catch them live and pick up a copy if this album at the same time if you can, because I'm pretty sure you'll not be disappointed.

You can see I.C.O.N live here:
Saturday 23rd May – Rebellion, Manchester (with Breed 77)
Thursday 18th June – The Garage, London
Friday 19th June – Whittles, Oldham
Saturday 20th June – Hark to Towler, Bury
Saturday 27th June – Wildfire Festival, Biggar
Saturday 26th September – Hairy Dog, Derby
Saturday 24th October – The Cellar, Oxford

'The Blacklist' Tracklist:
A Room In Hell
Feeding The Negative
Grindin' Wheel
I'm The Venom
Welcome To My War
Speak To Your God
Devil's Blacklist
Wrong Way Back
Man of the North
Drowning In Their Screams

I.C.O.N are:
Mark Sagar – Vocals
Scott Knowles – Guitar
Reece Bevan – Bass Guitar
Larry Paterson – Drums

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