Icon – Night of the Crime (1985)

Icon_NightCrime4.5 out of 5 Stars!

From the city of Phoenix, Arizona, Icon was a band that (for a brief moment in time during its relatively short existence) should have been huge…or at least world-renowned in the Hard Rock/AOR and Stadium Rock arena (pun intended).

Although I had purchased the band’s debut album back in 1984, I’d ended up designating it not much more than a collection of fairly decent Hard Rock tunes bordering on Metal, but nothing truly spectacular—a band somewhat better than average, but still too similar to other “hair bands” that seemed a dime a dozen during the era, with nothing to set it apart from the masses. Nevertheless, considering the obvious talent the boys displayed on several of the tracks, especially enjoying the lead vocals and dual guitars, I held out hope for further development and considered Icon one of the more promising new acts on the Hard Rock scene…basically, a band to watch.

And thankfully, my vigilance paid off in spades when the band’s sophomore album, Night of the Crime, dropped the following year. Not only did I immediately “up” my overall estimation of the group’s talent and general status on the music scene, but considered the new album one of the finest, most catchy and consistent Hard Rock/AOR releases of the year…indeed, in the entire history of the genre.

On Night of the Crime, with killer tunes such as “Out for Blood,” “Naked Eyes,” “Raise the Hammer,” “Rock My Radio,” “Missing,” and “Frozen Tears,” Icon had successfully expanded its occasionally pedestrian “hair band” sound. In readjusting its focus by adding even more melodic elements, a touch of keyboards, and dramatic dynamics to the style of its debut platter, the band ended up delivering a set of ten stellar tracks that seemed almost a precursor to other exciting AOR bands such as FM, King Kobra, and Shy, which would all come to my attention within the year. Only Night of the Crime, with its twin guitarists, still possessed a heavier sound, and although the album still sits quite comfortably on my “AOR/Melodic Rock” playlist next to albums from those aforementioned bands, it also fits in well beside releases from beefier, harder-edged AOR groups such as Unruly Child, Overland, Autograph, and Giant, plus today’s Change of Heart, H.E.A.T., Brother Firetribe, Grand Illusion, and Newman.

Regardless, although Night of the Crime ended up being an album that should have firmly placed Icon on the road to superstardom, the fickle finger of fate had other ideas. Shortly after this release, the band replaced its forceful and distinguishable lead vocalist, and the subsequent album Right Between the Eyes (not released until 1989) offered a more generic “hair band” sound once again, obviously cloning Whitesnake in many respects and targeted toward the audience of MTV’s Headbangers Ball, with the songwriting less memorable, and the melodic passion and creativity displayed on Night of the Crime sadly diminished. It wasn’t a horrible effort, mind you, just not even close to being a suitable and worthy follow-up to this unforgettable, near-perfect AOR collection.

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