Showing posts with label icon for hire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label icon for hire. Show all posts

Monday, November 28, 2016

video review: 'you can't kill us' by icon for hire

Well, this happened... my god, I wish this was so much better, especially as their first independent release. Instead, we got an only decent record combining the most frustrating elements from their last two records and none of the justifications. Joy.

Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned!

album review: 'you can't kill us' by icon for hire

This will be a bit of a weird review - and not just because I have a history with this band, but also because hindsight is one of those things that can shift one's opinion on an act pretty dramatically. 

And as much as I don't like to admit it, Icon For Hire often falls into that camp for me, mostly because they can be a difficult band to really categorize. Many people thought when they signed to Tooth & Nail - a Christian label - that they'd fall into that disreputable subgenre of badly produced crap, but Icon For Hire actually rose a fair bit above their contemporaries to make some pretty solid alternative rock and metal, with a knack for solid writing, good hooks, and the tremendous talents of frontwoman Ariel. They infused a lot more pop and hip-hop elements into their self-titled - basically to satirize all of them - and I liked that record so much in 2013 that it ended up on my top 25 albums of that year. In retrospect... I'm not at all certain I could justify it on that list now, mostly because the production the label gave them was pretty flat. Their producer Mike Green had worked with Pierce The Veil and Paramore - which has been a comparison that has been made with Icon For Hire their entire careers and not exactly a promising one - but it did not help that record and it has aged pretty poorly.

And then everything went to shit. They ran into serious conflicts with their label - probably because they've always kept Christian subject matter at arm's length, which was probably smart - went independent, and dropped an EP back in 2015... that got some polarized reactions for 'Now You Know', which railed hard against music industry sexism. And yeah, I appreciate the bluntness of the message and the deeper attempts at subtext, but the delivery did not work - Ariel's less-melodic rapped delivery, the grating synths, the flat production, it did no service to an important message. And when you hear they funded their new album through Kickstarter, raising over a hundred thousand dollars to get Mike Green back and pull it together... look, deep down I still like this group, and they've written strong hooks and smart songs, I wanted to really like this. Did You Can't Kill Us deliver?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

video review: 'icon for hire' by icon for hire

Well, this took entirely too long to get online. Ended up having internet problems all of last evening, so while I could get access to the web, I couldn't upload anything. So I went to bed early, woke up, and somehow the problem had fixed itself.

And the cable companies say they don't have throttles. Right.

So yeah, probably Scotty McCreery next, or maybe that surprise Fall Out Boy punk record. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

album review: 'icon for hire' by icon for hire

A while back, I reviewed an album from the Christian rock act Skillet, mostly because I was curious to examine a genre that rarely gets touched by critics because of religious connotations and the justifiable belief that Christian rock sucks. As a Catholic myself, I've got my lengthy issues with Christian rock - particularly the groups that try to evangelize and start getting insufferable - but I wanted to see if the music was any good and the problem was the moralizing. 

I ended up coming to the following conclusion: Christian rock doesn't suck because of the Christian qualities - it sucks because the instrumentation, vocals, and especially the production tends to blow, with the Christian element just adding a whole new layer of moral superiority into the mix to completely alienate the majority of their audience. 

But, of course, there are exceptions everywhere and just because a band might be signed to a nominally Christian label doesn't mean their music is tainted by the moniker of Christian rock and thus is aggressively terrible. Hell, many people would argue Evanescence fit that role in their early years. But instead of talking about a band I hate (that would be Evanescence), let's talk about one that's actually pretty damn great: Icon For Hire, an alternative metal band signed to Tooth & Nail records who released their first album Scripted in 2011. And while the band shuns the label of Christian rock, I almost wish they adopted the genre - because thematically, this is what religious music should sound like. If Icon for Hire wanted to call themselves Christian rock, I don't think the genre would have nearly as bad of a reputation as it does, because man, this band is talented. Their debut is an album about exploring moral crises and emotional instability and the incredibly difficult decisions that come with them, all loaded with an edge of symphonic theatricality and emotional context that makes the album extremely compelling. Plus, unlike the majority of Christian rock, the production and instrumentation and great and the vocals courtesy of Ariel Bloomer did wonders for carrying the album. Yes, as with most debut albums, there are some shaky points and a certain lack of focus, but I really dug Scripted all the same and was anxious for their self-titled follow-up this year. Does it hold up to my expectations?