Album review: ICON – Icon (Remaster)

Rock Candy Records [release date: 18.03.22]

Icon’s debut album from 1984 has recently been remastered by leading UK Reissue label, Rock Candy Records.

The fact that the band’s set list in those early days included material by Deep Purple and Judas Priest is a pretty good indicator of the content.

It’s not easy creating the raw, primitive excitement of life-on-the-streets heavy metal in a tiny studio on a limited budget.
Producer, Mike Varney, had the touch though, teasing out the tunes, ramping up the action at the right moments, getting the best from vocalist Stephen Clifford and guitarists John Aquilino and Dan Wexler.
The fiery, fiercely dramatic ‘Under My Gun’ and the closing ballad, ‘It’s Up To You’ indicated an earthiness and a maturity in the songwriting that would lead to greater things.

And you can hear confirmation in the pounding, percussive ‘Through The Night’ and ‘On Your Feet’ (an FM Radio hit), of just why Capitol Records signed them up for their follow up album, Night Of The Crime, a year later.

The label makes a more than decent stab at remastering the album.
As you would expect, the recording levels in a 1984 budget studio are often no more than bedside radio quality, so there are a lot of limitations when remastering.
So they’ve been smart. The guitars, which arguably were always a bit low in the mix to begin with, have been moved up a few notches, and the thud and thunder of the rhythm section have been give pride of place. Sounds good.

Icon, the album, was a confident beginning on what turned out to be an erratic career path for the band, subsequently losing key members and recording contracts. En route, they created several albums of classic metal and an enviable reputation, with little tangible reward. ****

review by Brian McGowan

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