Physically "Icon" works the tactile angle nicely with the slick tri-fold digipak sporting Cloisonné like Christian themed insets and a tasty matte finish that I have trouble keeping my grimey fingers away from. This doesn't change the impact of the sounds of course but I'd be a liar if I tried to claim otherwise that I'm a sucker for spot on case design. What we are not provided with is a plethora of information beyond the basic track titles and credits. No lyrics or manifesto are offered so you will have to decide on your own whether the religious themed cover art actually has any connection whatsoever to the disc contents (in some cases I have my doubts).
The material breaks down into two jagged archetypes: sustain based thronging; forward moving new school power electronics. Pieces like "Of Rape And Rapture" mostly just hang in the air with layers of FMish white noise, power supply sourced mid-range ugliness and backwards vocal swoops creating a steady motion, lively yet constant. Tracks like "Retreat" however build up a contemporary PE structure using tools like looping resonant hum, caustic swipes of an ultra nasty filter cutoff and an undecipherable authoritarian vocal attack ripe with modulation and delay. There are a few sections on tracks such as "Intravenous Incendiary Device" where some of the beds (soiled mattresses more like it) almost sound guitar based and once in while ("Learning To Breathe") near melodics creep in though these thankfully never truly break out of the realm of texture and skillfully avoid too much direct exposure. One odd thing about the general track structures are that when a wall is in between you and the speaker, I swear it sounds like you are listening to the muffled woof of technical deathmetal. Really odd when you walk around the corner and realize what is actually playing (says something about the compositional approach I guess).
What is consistent through all of the tracks is a grey and dusty character (think later Steel Hook Prostheses or colder Control), partially due to the reliance on reverb and feedback but also coming from the high end acoustic density (in my MP3 player this disc has an outline like it works the pole at a stripper bar). Conceptually a lot of the tracks sound like they have seen multiple passes through an exciter into comb filter chain: saturated yet rarified. Other than the one obvious abstainer (the bad date how-to "Sewn Shut [Torn Open]") it's a cold, barren sort of sound profile that lacks almost any moment of warmth - as if all of its blood has been drained out and replaced with the ghosting and static from a cheap black and white CCTV monitor. I like.
Despite this, F/I/T/H manages to keep overall discernability in the tracks here which is important when you have comparatively intricate structural layering involved (I'm picturing smoke pouring out of an overworked DAW). Part of that is the use of stereo placement but mostly my money is on Michael Paige happening to have a hugely fucking accurate ear. This also is not what I would call an up close and personal disc. This is not a Deathpile like headlock or Grunt style forced intrusion. No, this is all oppressive concrete towers with high powered PA speakers, sub-zero temperatures and wind storms. Even when it is going for internal monologue it's like it is being broadcast into your skull from far away schizophrenic style.
Michael Paige seems a fan of evolution over constant stylistic creationism and here again with "Icon" we see a refining of technique as opposed to drastic wheel re-invention. With the zoom setting at maximum it is not so obvious but when you pull back from the F/I/T/H discography a bit you can clearly see how the emergence of a distinct identity for the act is now complete. "Icon" successfully blasts out its own stylistic niche via signature stereo effects treatments and blistering vocal attacks. It is a thoroughly modern best of breed PE release that is tightly packed, perfectly paced and ultimately all enveloping. In other words highly recommended.