Nazxul – Iconoclast (Moribund Records)

Sunday, 17th March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

‘Tis a shame that symphonic black metal always gets sidestepped in favor of more primitive and “necro” flavorings. The style that Australia’s Nazxul and a select few (old Dimmu, Chthonic, Graveworm, etc.) purvey has less of a ceiling than it’s more one-track minded counterparts. As such, Iconoclast emerges as a winner and that’s because of the band’s mindful use of the symphonic BM template and also the fact they have good songs. That always helps.

At 14 songs, there’s a lot to go around here, but Nazxul plays it close to the vest on the very mid-90’s oriented “Symbol of Night and Winter (Ancient Lords),” a song that could have landed on In the Nightside Eclipse, if it so chooses. The keyboards blanket the mix, adding dark swirls to the memorable “V,” and excellent “Set In Array.” Some might view this as a deterrent, although Nazxul makes no allusions to keeping things out of the grandiose range.

The 14 songs are what eventually kicks this album’s rating down a peg. It’s a test of wills toward the end, save for the aforementioned “Symbol of Night and Winter (Ancient Lords).” A small quarrel, nonetheless, yet if Nazxul wants to remain in league with the big-boys of the style, trimming down album lengths would be a good place to start.

Beyond that, Iconoclast would be a world-beating affair had it been released 10 years ago. Today, it runs the risk of fluttering the in the winds (of plague) that is the modern black metal scene. A scene that for the umpteenth time, is severely bloated.

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