Shogun Iconoclast

Opening with "Nation of Masochists," Iconoclast immediately stakes its claim to reaching beyond the realms of metallic hardcore, even if its sound remains firmly entrenched within it. While "Nation..." mines similar territory to noise stalwarts Converge, an easy if inaccurate comparison, as everyone either sounds like Converge or Dillinger these days, Iconoclast gradually integrates more "metal" influences as it unfolds, gaining their own identity in the process. Elements of black and death are assimilated with ease (a burgeoning movement in the hardcore underground), melding effortlessly into Shogun's brooding sound. Technically complex, Shogun walk a fine line between wank and rock, filling their songs with ambitious structures and runs while maintaining the ability to destroy stages at the first sign of overindulgence. Take "Perth Epic," for example, a song structurally incorporating black metal's gothic dynamics, even going so far as to utilise a flute, but still manages to degenerate into a noise freak out by its end. Vocally, the tone is closer to classic Jeff Walker (Carcass), with only the occasional gang-back ups and spoken/sung segments adding contrast. Still, while Iconoclast chooses from a host of formally incongruent metallic influences to achieve its devastating sound, the end result is utterly ruthless and, at times, awkwardly beautiful. (Goodfellow)