Iconic — Second Skin (Frontiers)
To be defined as ‘iconic’ requires a certain level of influence, recognition and reverence.
Using the adjective to describe your brand new band is brave, bordering on the foolhardy.
Talk about setting yourself up for a fall.
As names go, Iconic treads a dangerously thin line between supreme self-confidence and rank cockiness.
Go big or go home appears to be the mantra where Frontiers’ latest star-studded project is concerned.
So is Iconic exactly that?
Or has Serafino Perugino — President and Head of A&R for Frontiers — finally lost the plot?
It was the Italian’s masterplan to put together a late 80s version of Whitesnake for 2022.
And it was Perugino’s burning desire to provide Inglorious frontman Nathan James with a high profile platform for those passionate, lung-bursting vocals.
Dream realised? You bet.
First impression of Second Skin
Iconic, as the name so shamelessly suggests, is a supergroup in the finest traditions of the term.
James is joined by Stryper’s Michael Sweet and Whitesnake members past and present in the shape of Marco Mendoza, Joel Hoekstra and Tommy Aldridge.
As rock and roll icons go you could do worse.
In truth, Perugino couldn’t have done much better as four giants of their genre enable James to realise his potential and further push the envelope.
As befits this heavy-hitting collaboration, Second Skin (who knows who or what Iconic shed to reach this point) is hardly the most subtle of album titles.
And at times the songs here are so reminiscent of 1987 and Slip Of The Tongue that it’s a wonder Iconic aren’t called When Whitesnake Ruled MTV (admittedly, it’s a less snappy moniker).
In fairness to James and his buddies, this is more an ardent love letter to those late 80s glory days than a disrespectful rip-off of David Coverdale at his commercial peak.
Iconic have the experience and the expertise to execute this classic rock mission to perfection.
And young pup James — who freely admits to being a starstruck fanboy surrounded by his heroes — sounds like the dog’s bollocks on his best work to date.
This Way for a Whitesnake throwback
Save the best until last?
Opener Fast As You Can is the pacey opener that sets the standard on this robust rip-roarer of a record.
James and Sweet trade soaring vocals as Hoekstra channels his inner Adrian Vandenberg.
And Iconic leave little to chance — and nothing to the imagination — as the band delivers its bold melodic rock manifesto within four-and-a-half furiously intense minutes.
Power ballad All I Need is just perfect for James.
It’s at the higher end of the flamboyant frontman’s vocal range but Nathan nails it.
It’s surely the only way for Perugino’s Whitesnake wannabes as they rattle through one of the finest examples of Iconic’s collective thrust.
‘I never felt so lonely/you were the one and only’ insists an emotional James on side two’s heartfelt albeit histrionic highlight.
Second Skin’s sketchy title track is a rare wrong saved by an exceptionally tight solo.
But sumptuous set closer Enough Of Your Love leans on a vintage Coverdale refrain to set the seal on a flawless debut.
Flawless, limitless, iconic.
Perugino might just have hit pay dirt with Second Skin.