Icon and the Black Roses – Thorns

icon-and-the-black-roses-thorns-album-coverIn a world where every new band that comes to my attention normally sounds the same it’s nice to hear something different. Something darker. Not that Icon and the Black Roses are exactly new either; starting as Blue Obsession in 1999 before a name change, a debut album, and ultimately splitting in 2004. In 2011 the band announced their return with a new line up whilst songs from the first album were featured on the hit computer game Rockband.

What Icon and the Black Roses do today musically isn’t new it just hasn’t been done for a while. The best way to describe the sound of the band is Goth n’ Roll. Dark haunting lyrics with a very punchy sound alongside them. There is also something very Scandinavian about these Portuguese rockers.  So dare you follow me into the shadows to find what could be your new favourite band?

The album launches with opener ‘Lost’ a song which really would not sound out-of-place on a HIM album. In fact the Finnish goth-rockers sound is perfect to compare the band to. Within a few listens I already had the chorus to ‘Lost’ stuck in my head. A good quick-paced song that perfectly sets the tone of Thorns.

Following on we get to ‘Innocence’ a slower, darker sounding song, but by no means a ballad before ripping into ‘The Painter’ which kicks the album back up a gear. A very “vampiric” song which will have goth-rock fans as well as the Twilight generation singing along.

‘Wings of a Dreamer’, ‘Moments of Madness’ and ‘Devil Made You’ are the next songs up. All of which have a very 69 Eyes-style sound to them. It’s the lyrics and music which connects them to the band yet in some ways they are also very different.  ‘Healing Touch’ follows, which is my personal favourite song on the album. From the intro to the dramatic fade at the end this song is all about the keyboards. The sound is just so haunting but almost has a pop sound to it which is what really makes it the stand out track in my opinion.

The next two songs are ‘Sometimes’ and ‘With or Without You’ (no not that one). The former slows the pace down again before its brought back up again by the latter. ‘With Or Without You’ features some very 80’s sounding guitars which adds a very Guns N’ Roses feel to the song. It also reminds me of another Scandinavian band called Negative – check them out if you like this song.

Thorns comes to a close with ‘Silence Is Everything’. It does just what a finishing track should do, bring the album to an epic close. The band really shows off the guitars, drums and keyboards here. Anyone who has heard any of (Motley Crue’s) Nikki Sixx’s side project Sixx AM will be familiar with this track’s sound. It is very dark and grand before a huge conclusion. As the last keyboard notes play out it’s as if this sun is coming up and the darkness is fading away.

Icon and the Black Roses are a band really worth checking out. This album sounds great and is very well produced. Fans of HIM, The 69 Eyes, Negative, and Lacuna Coil will not be disappointed whilst fans of other heavier rock bands shouldn’t be put off either.

There is a lot of charm in Thorns and is well worth checking out. Released in March 2014, the album has been made available by the band for free on their website.

Liam O'Donnell
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