For Fans Of
Deathcore is a word that often gets bandied around in an almost derogatory sense. Since this genre first came to attention in the early 2000s, we’ve seen a lot of huge bands eschew the style and focus on a more traditional metal approach. Like Job For A Cowboy, for instance. Whereas other bands seemed to either fade into obscurity or break-up. French-Canadians Despised Icon were one such band that eventually decided to call it a day back in 2010. Whilst some of the members moved onto new projects, such as co-frontman Alexandre Erian forming hardcore outfit Obey The Brave, fans wondered if the band would ever return.
Well, sure enough, in 2014, Despised Icon announced some reunion dates. Which then turned into more headline shows, and they’re now set to release their new album, ‘Beast’, on July 22nd via Nuclear Blast Records. So, how does it shape up?
There’s definitely no time to think about what you might be in for when you hit play, because ‘The Aftermath’ immediately hits you in the face. It’s nice to see a band not using an interlude type track as an album introduction for once (though we’ll get to that). This song is definitely a good example of DI’s hardcore roots but, make no mistake, there’s plenty of blast beats and growls to be found. ‘Inner Demons’ is perhaps better example of the band’s deathcore/death metal roots, as the lead riff is definitely a lot more dissonant, aggressive and faster paced. As is the next track, ‘Drapeau Noir’, which is actually sung in French. Oh, and in English, that song title apparently means ‘Black Flag’. Just saying. Anyway, the tremolo picked lead riff in this song is damned good, as is the guitar solo. Not to mention, the drumming as a whole is absolutely on point, for this song and the album as a whole. The ending of ‘Drapeau Noir’ is also about as hardcore as it gets, as it breaks down into a solid ‘two step’ groove.
‘Bad Vibes’ might be a bit of a corny song title, but it ain’t lacking in quality. The verses of this song are insane and the interplay between vocalists Alexandre Erian and Steve Marios is a particular highlight. Crucially, when the mid-song breakdown kicks in, there are actual pig squeals. I haven’t heard that vocal style used in a LONG time and it caught me off guard to the point where I had to laugh to myself. ‘One Last Martini’ and the title track are easily the better two of the remaining songs. The title track, in particular, is probably my favourite song off the whole album, even with the pig squeal section.
Now remember what I said before about those interlude intro tracks? Well, ‘Dedicated To Extinction’ definitely feels like it should’ve been at the start of the album. Yes, I know I said that it was nice to hear a band not use an intro track such as, but if you’re going to have one, DO NOT make it the fifth bloody track. It’s jarring and weirdly placed. In fact, the second interlude song, ‘Doomed’, is basic filler, just a lot less weirdly placed. Also, it does seem peculiar to include two interlude/instrumental tracks on a ten-track album. Especially one from a band like Despised Icon.
Weirdly placed interlude tracks aside, ‘Beast’ is a pretty solid album. It’s not groundbreaking by any means, but I don’t think that it’s meant to be. Certainly, I see Despised Icon’s fanbase loving this release, and some younger, newer fans absolutely loving it as well. It’s also a rare thing for a deathcore release to not get tiring after about five tracks in, so that in itself is a huge achievement for the band. Make sure you check ‘Beast’ out when it drops on July 22nd. It’s good to have Despised Icon back!
01. The Aftermath
02. Inner Demons
03. Drapeau Noir
04. Bad Vibes
05. Dedicated To Extinction
06. Grind Forever
07. Time Bomb
08. One Last Martini