I think we're all aware that iconography is most effective when communicating simple/established/conventional ideas that can be understood without any words at all - like search, print, share, etc. But if you've set up a nice aesthetic courtesy of some modern-looking icons and your site has very few visual assets available besides those icons, is there any reason not to use icons to break up what would otherwise be just a massive page of text - even if these icons are not as conventionally understandable?
One example would be a content list where each item could, on some sites, have a thumbnail image. On the site in question, there's no related photo for each content item, so the list is just a huge list of text. I could use an icon on each list item, to represent content type (article, research report, etc.). But the content types are too subtly different to be represented PURELY with iconography alone. It'd still have to say "Article" "Research Report" etc. somewhere. Does that mean that the icons are a waste of space, and end up increasing visual clutter? Or is this iconography, even though it's not effective without framing text, still a valid solution for introducing some visual interest, some negative space, and to provide a break from reading?