ICON OF SIN – Icon of Sin

ICON OF SIN - Icon of Sin
  • 9.6/10
    ICON OF SIN - Icon of Sin - 9.6/10


Frontiers Music Srl
Release Date: 16 April 2021

User Review
6.33/10 (3 votes)

Raphael Mendes has a band

Icon of Sin is the self-titled debut record from the Traditional Heavy Metal band from Brazil. Lead singer Raphael Mendes made himself known in Metal circles with his voice, which sounds eerily similar to Bruce Dickinson’s. He created a series on YouTube, “What if Bruce Dickinson Sang For…” where he sings songs of other Metal and Hard Rock bands in his own Dickinson impression. The album is absolutely fantastic, doesn’t have a single bad song in it, and ranges from Hard Rock to Power Metal and everything in between, with a distinct homage to Iron Maiden, but also love for everything else Classic Metal. You won’t regret buying it if you’re into Metal at all and don’t mind the similarity to Bruce.

Imitation leads to evolution

It is through emulation and derivation that art evolves. In the painting world, art can be divided into movements, with many artists trying to achieve the same general concept while putting their own flare to it. Monet is the most famous impressionist painter, but that didn’t stop a whole host of contemporaries from adopting and improving or adding variation to his style. Music and Metal especially are no different with bands in the same subgenre usually sounding quite similar.

From Da Vinci to Michelangelo to Raphael (yes, yes, the TMNT), through every other lesser-known contemporary, each artist has had a deep influence and challenged the other to create something better.  The same holds true for one country’s scene influencing the next, with a remarkable similarity between the Dutch master Rembrandt and Flemish master Rubens, French and Italian baroque, or the larger Europe-wide movement of the Renaissance. Apprentices surpass their masters, creating their own version of the master’s signature style and evolving the art in the process.

Metal music is no different. Every Metal band’s sound can be traced back to Deep Purple, Sabbath, or Led Zeppelin. Some bands are dead ringers of another’s sound, and they are no lesser by it. Savage Circus and Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray and Iron Savior, Rainbow and Purple. While the work can be called  “derivative”, it’s so much more than that, it is both a homage to the artists who inspired them and their attempt to improve on the foundation laid by others. It is by standing on the shoulders of giants that leaps in human knowledge, and art is no exception to that, can be achieved.

What is Axl Rose’s howl if not his own take on Robert Plant’s fierce vocals? What is Glenn Danzig’s haunting and powerful voice if not an edgier Elvis? What is King Diamond’s trademark high-pitched banshee screaming if not his own take on Halford?

Enter Icon of Sin

It is under this lens one should look at Icon of Sin, a contemporary Traditional Heavy Metal band from Brazil spearheaded by YouTube Metal vocal hero Raphael Mendes. Raphael was born with a voice that after much training, studying, and admiring Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, sounds eerily similar to his idol, yet has a sound of his own.

Now, do not be mistaken to think for even a second Icon of Sin is merely an emulation of Iron Maiden or of the fencing champion, airline pilot, keynote speaker, bestselling author, and singer extraordinaire’s solo career. While the songs in this debut album, co-written by Raphael, Marcelo Gelbcke (Landfall), and Sergio Mazul (Semblant) are in the general ballpark of what one would expect from a Maiden or Dickinson record, they are very much original and stretch Raphael’s vocal capacities without any mercy. Gelbcke and Mazul share production credits on this start-studded effort by Frontiers, taking Raphael’s vocal talents to the next musical level.

Completing the outfit are Caio Vidal on bass, Sol Perez and Mateus Cantaleãno on guitar, and CJ Dubiella on drums, who provide flawless performances throughout the record. Bass and Drums never fail to convey great groove and provide a solid foundation for the pounding riffs and soaring solos played by Perez and Cantaleaño.

Does the world need another Bruce Dickinson? Hell yeah! Raphael has published a series of videos on YouTube – “What If Bruce Dickinson Sang For...” – covering everything from Megadeth to Queen and Aerosmith. There is no doubt left that just like the Guile Theme, Bruce Dickinson goes with everything. This reviewer knew that from a very early age – having heard Bruce Bruce singing “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” in the Sabbath tribute Nativity In Black as one of his first forays into metal. Check out Mendes and Gelbcke in action below on a DIO classic:

And let’s be honest, although Brucey’s efforts with his solo career are solid, they never managed to reach the heights he’s had with Maiden, and there’s too little of it. This world needs all the Bruce Dickinson it can get and then some!

If you are interested in Raphael Mendes’ trajectory and the feedback he’s been getting, we have interviewed him about this release

Album Breakdown

A homage to the Doom game series, “Icon of Sin” is the opening track, and while it plays pretty safe in terms of the Iron Maiden influenced vocals, it is a great number nonetheless. The song has more of a Hard Rock and Progressive thing going that clearly makes it distinct from what Maiden would do. Get ready to laugh or shake your head when you stop paying attention for a second only to moments later realize how close Raphael’s singing emulates Dickinson’s.

“Road Rage” takes you closer to Rainbow territory with its Blackmore-inspired riffs. Here we see Raphael adapting his vocal style to sound closer to Glenn Hughes or Dio than Dickinson, even though it can’t be helped. This does not at all detract from the enjoyment of the track, it’s a marriage made in heaven and hell. The Paul Gilbert-inspired solo kicks it up a notch and ties a bow atop the whole thing.

One of the core singles of the album, “Shadow Dancer” edges closer to Chemical Wedding era solo Dickinson, or Virtual X era Maiden. The verse section could very well be in a Landfall record, which comes as no surprise due to Gelbcke’s involvement in the writing. The chorus, bridge, and outro though. show exactly what this song sets out to do: A tension and harmony-filled masterpiece that not only showcases how versatile Mendes’ singing is, that crosses into Power Metal territory with ease without ever sounding repetitive or out of place.

“Unholy Battleground” sets up a more octane-fueled rocking mood that would be right at home in Balls to Picasso, or No Prayer for the Dying. Abundant vocal harmonies reel you in like nothing else, and the singing here is definitely the star of the show, showing Raphael going a bit more aggressive while keeping it melodic with the harmonies.

The catchiest song in the record, and the one closest to breaching into Power Metal territory, “Night Breed” hits the bullseye. The Timo Tolkki-inspired chorus and guitar melodies show once again that Raphael’s brand of Dickinsonesque vocals goes with absolutely anything, and one could argue, fit this sort of music better than your typical Power Metal singer would. Another banger of a guitar solo gels this one together and takes it back into the 80s.

“Virtual Empire” sees Icon of Sin dabble into early Blind Guardian and early Helloween Speed Metal territory. One can only smile at how absolutely amazing this would sound with a vocal duel between Mendes and either Kai Hansen or Hansi Kürsch. Some additional orchestration during the chorus would’ve been welcome here, but the variety it adds to the record can’t be understated. The bass solo section leading into the solo sets up the perfect Keeper of the Seven Keys vibe to which the guitars respond accordingly.

“Pandemic Euphoria” sees Icon of Sin reaching for other influences, namely Judas Priest. While you won’t hear Mendes scream with abandon like Halford, he does a rather competent job at keeping the Priest vibe even with his distinct vocal style. The lyrics’ take on the ongoing theme since the first lockdown in March 2020, lending the song a more purposeful and somber tone than the rest of the record.

Delving into the second half of the record, it feels as if Icon of Sin slowly morphs into a more melancholic and introspecting version of itself. “Clouds Over Gotham” is, in the opinion of this reviewer, the very best track in Icon of Sin’s debut. It shows the band risking a bit more, fusing more and more influences while leaning into a controversial era of Maiden, the more progressive The X Factor. The hook at the end of the chorus reveals Batman-esque orchestration work and melodies that lend the perfect theatrics and tension to this track.

“Arcade Generation”, Icon of Sin’s homage to the fantastic times spent in front of a screen spending quarters in the 80s, sees the band inching again closer to Hair Metal, and once more showing that yes, Brucey goes with that too. As if we didn’t already know that from his time with Samson.

“Hagakure” and “The Last Samurai”, Icon of Sin’s homage to the movie of the same name, see the band inching further away from the mainstay influences presented until now and developing a sound of their own. It is exciting to hear and imagine what they can become once they grow past the shadow of their idols.

“The Howling” mends together the band’s Power Metal forays and more traditional Maiden-inspired grooves in a way that works surprisingly well.

Album closer “Survival Instinct” sees Icon of Sin trying to emulate Piece of Mind era Maiden, but creating something quite different that is no less interesting. It brings an element of modern melodic death metal into the melodies but is an unmistakable homage to Adrian Smith’s and Dave Murray’s dueling guitar harmonies of old.


It’s really hard to pick favorites when it comes to Icon of Sin. It is a remarkably solid record with really not a single weak composition in it, enjoyable from beginning to end. Despite being a debut album, you can feel the maturity in the compositions that the producing duo lends to the material. The performances are flawless and Raphael’s voice is never tiring or annoying. It is also not repetitive in any shape or form, showcasing the strength of the collaborative writing achieved by the creation trio.

Highly recommended for any heavy metal fan who can’t get enough of the classics and does not mind hearing Dickinson through somebody else’s mouth.



  1. Icon Of Sin
  2. Road Rage
  3. Shadow Dancer
  4. Unholy Battleground
  5. Nightbreed
  6. Virtual Empire
  7. Pandemic Euphoria
  8. Clouds Over Gotham
  9. Arcade Generation
  10. Hagakure (Intro)
  11. The Last Samurai
  12. The Howling
  13. Survival Instinct


  • Raphael Mendes – Vocals
  • Caio Vidal – Bass
  • Sol Perez – Guitar
  • Mateus Cantaleãno – Guitar
  • CJ Dubiella – Drums


  • Alex Reis

    Alex is a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, born and raised in Curitiba, PR, Brazil, yet living in Antwerp, Belgium, since 2010. AC/DC was his first intro to Rock and Metal, but Metallica and Iron Maiden were the turning point for his love of the genre. Alex has played the guitar since he was 14, and has been an aspiring musician ever since.  Also serving as lead guitarist and vocalist for Belgian/Brazilian Hard Rock outfit SSC, Alex and co. have released a single a few years ago, but are yet to follow with a full-length  release that's been 20 years in the works. When Alex is not writing for MER or making music, he works at the Belgian tech scene, having served as CTO and other technical roles in numerous startups and organizations.

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