Burn the Empire – The Iconoclast (Self-Released)

Sunday, 18th October 2015
Rating: 8/10

Witnessing Burn the Empire for the first time two months ago when they took the stage with Rivers of Nihil and Black Crown Initiate, they impressed with their style of death metal brutality that still managed to keep things memorable. Low and behold, here sits the band’s latest effort, following up their 2014 full-length Dethrone, and it stands just as tall as their live performance.

There is something to be said for this new crop of death metal bands that trim the fat and leave it at the door. Some may have qualms with this approach, but whenever a blistering death metal track gets artificially elongated to 4-5 minutes, it does lose something in the process. The Iconoclast gives us 5 tracks that effectively linger around the 3-minute mark and never lower their vitality. “The Dominion” is as good as any of the tracks to start with, as it delivers the EP’s most frenetic rush – complete with some real crushing riffs. There’s also some atmosphere to be had, with “The Traitor” opening with a bit of a Rivers of Nihil feel (Rivers guitarist Brody Uttley did have a hand in this recording after all) and then continuing on with some striking melodies overtop of some mid-tempo groove. “The Negation” exceeds in this regard as well, even divulging into a short but ever-so-sweet solo towards the end of the track. In all honesty, the atmosphere on The Iconoclast is something the band should continue to push, as even the more aggressive tracks, such as the title track (which also has a notable melodic solo), benefit from these dabblings and make a record worth returning back to on many occasions.

Pennsylvania has become a much stronger scene for death metal over the last few years, and promising acts like Burn the Empire continue to show that things are continuing to improve. Those looking for some hard-hitting death metal that isn’t afraid to lean into some atmosphere are going to be thrilled with The Iconoclast. A band to watch, for sure.

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