Despised Icon - BeastThe state of deathcore in 2016 isn’t an enviable one. It’s not quite old enough yet to spur on needlessly salty debates about the best MySpace pages, and it’s not fashionable or ubiquitous enough anymore to act as a gateway to further extremity as it once did for so many. Suicide Silence was never that good to begin with, but their records have noticeably declined in quality since their debut. Job for a Cowboy has been a boring modern death metal band since Genesis. All Shall Perish hasn’t released an album since 2011, let alone a good one since 2008; the list goes on. Enter the best-known Canadian deathcore band that’s not Cryptopsy in 2008: Despised Icon. Generally, this a band where people beyond their teens who don’t much care for deathcore anymore, myself included, can enjoy to some degree. As such, I was interested in seeing what they’ve cooked up here on Beast, their first record since 2009.

While it’s about five years too early to start with the sure to be bitter true and false deathcore arguments, I’d say that Despised Icon are deathcore in the truest sense of the word. The “death” comes primarily from mid-period Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, and modern Cryptopsy, although Beast’s riffing is less technical than the output of those three. The “core” leans heavily on the burly and kinetic riffing of bands like Terror, Sick of it All, and Hatebreed. There seems to be a larger that usual emphasis on core than death for Despised Icon, which might suggest vocalist Alexandre Erian’s metalcore project Obey the Brave seeping into the writing process.

The greater focus on hardcore has made Beast’s songs more streamlined and catchy, which tends to work out well for the band. “Inner Demons” is the most death metal-y track here, combining Cannibal Corpse’s mid-period riffing with Suffocation’s slams effectively. Two-thirds of the way through the song, the band unleashes a massive and memorable chug-fest with the requisite dissonance, and drummer Alex Grind simplifies his drumming underneath to great effect. This leads into a fitting and well-placed breakdown which sees Grind doing the machine gun kick drum thing we all either love or hate (it’s fun here). Modern Cryptopsy’s melodic sensibilities inform the main riff of “Drapeau Noir” and its excellent solo, and when it comes to things that sound like Cryptopsy I like the riff and lead here better than anything off Tome I. “Grind Forever” is amusingly hectic for the first minute or so, and then switches oddly well to being big, burly, and obnoxious after that with a crunchy and catchy groove riff; it’s the right amount of ridiculous to make for a raucous good time.

Despised Icon 2016

One largely bothersome thing about Beast is that it’s twenty-nine minutes long and has two interludes, meaning there’s give or take 25 minutes of proper songs on here. Regarding proper songs, “One Last Martini” overuses a painfully stereotypical deathcore riff that sounds like The Red Chord but a tad simpler and has an uninspiring breakdown to boot. “Time Bomb” precedes it and sounds like forgettable deathcore, making differentiating between the two tracks a bit of a hassle. Putting an interlude after these two tracks sees Beast shooting itself in the foot structurally, but the title track pulls it together well enough to close the record on a good note. “Bad Vibes” spends more than enough time doing a typical hardcore buildup, but the payoff is okay-ish modern Cryptopsy riffing that uninspiringly leads into decent knockoff Hatebreed riffing. Beast sounds close to This is Exile in production; it`s loud, pristine, and typically over-produced. The bass is a little more present than Whitechapel’s best, but other than that this is deathcore that sounds exactly as you’d expect it to.

We’re told amongst pig squeals that “Icon is back” in the title track, and from where I stand it’s good that they are. With both a dreadful new Whitechapel record and The Browning doing their annoying Skrillex-core thing taking the spotlight for deathcore in 2016, it’s nice to hear something that’s a mixture of competent, simplified, and largely down-to-earth death metal and good hardcore on Beast. While there’s a bit too much filler and one too many unremarkable moments to fully recommend it, the good stuff here is definitely worthwhile. This won’t change anyone’s mind on deathcore, but it’s a fun time for those of us who were fans way back when. In fact, I’d say that Beast is a perfect snapshot of what those who grew up with deathcore likely think of the genre 2016: there are some lackluster moments, but enough good stuff to remember why it resonated nearly a decade ago. I’m glad to say that a good chunk of what Despised Icon did here still resonated with me.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: despisedicon.com | facebook.com/despisedicon
Releases Worldwide: July 21st, 2016

Share →
  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Cryptopsy’s self-titled diluted in simplicity seems to be the state of all deathcore that isn’t just chugging by this point in time, with very few outliers.

  • bob

    So much name comparisons, this review feels like an informercial.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      But wait, there can be more comparisons!

      • bob

        Sign of lazy journalism

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Pointing out that it sounds like/takes influence from a whole bunch of well-known bands by naming those bands is lazy? That’s an odd standard and definition you’ve got there.

          • bob

            You abuse it. You don’t “point out”, you rely on it. And for the reader the review is useless if he hasn’t heard the bands you’re referring to.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            So what are the alternatives of describing a sound then? Diving into music theory? I’m pretty sure more people have heard extremely popular bands than know a whole bunch about theory. Using a bunch of adjectives? When describing music, those are pretty slippery. The band’s other works? I used those as a reference in the review. It’s not my fault there are six obvious influences here. Plus, if more things are referenced, wouldn’t that raise the likelihood of those reading to be able to place the sound?

          • bob

            Adjectives aren’t slippery, it’s the art of writing, picking the right ones…it’s creative writing, not informercials. A bit of theory is ok but not too much, I’d like to think a good review should exist in a vacuum, no need to mention early works or siblings. You can do it a bit, but it soon feels cheap. You review an album, not a dscography or a whole genre. Your 6 obvious references could be someone else’s 10 or 2. But that’s just me, a random internet bob.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            I suppose that’s where we disagree, as I don’t think good reviews exist in a vacuum. Where a record sits in a genre, among contemporaries, and in a band’s discography are important to understanding the record, I’d say. Ah well, agree to disagree. Nonetheless, thanks for the feedback random internet bob.

          • bob

            Cheers!

  • GREEN MIST BLINDS

    So what’s some “good” -core need some new tunes for the gym. Can only listen to harms way but so many times

    • brklyner

      Check out the first two All Shall Perish records, Hate Malice Revenge (especially Laid to Rest) and The Price of Existence (especially Eradication). Competent shredding, vicious vocals and brutal breakdowns.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        And “Wage Slaves”. The opening riff with the cowbell may be one of ASP’s finest moments.

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      Born Against – The Rebel Sound of Shit and Failure
      Integrity – Seasons in the Size of Days
      Rorschach – Protestant
      Starkweather – Crossbearer

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Unearth – The Oncoming Storm
      Sick of it All – Death to Tyrants
      Hatebreed – Supremacy
      Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels and Run the Jewels II (not core)

    • PanzerFistDominatrix

      Biohazard – Urban Discipline (classic NYC hardcore from early ’90s)

      Disfiguring the Goddess – Circle of Nine/Sleeper/Black Earth Child/Deprive (deathcore/slam/modern brutal DM/whatever you call this style it is seriously heavy)

  • ricin_beans

    New reader and first time commenter and I have to say that this blog has ruined my life. I have just sort of been getting back into new metal recently and making a playlist of things mostly made of things I discovered on this blog that were released in 2010 or later (approximately the year I stopped paying attention to new albums). After ruthless pruning the playlist clocks in just under 47 hours. Now I have to quit my job and kill my friends if I am going to listen to all of this. Damn you AMG.

    • Welcome to the site! Prepare to lose money and friends.

      • [not a Dr]

        Ya learn to live like an animal in the site where we play.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      You’re a lucky one. Most of our lives were already ruined before we ended up here, forming a sort of Confederacy Of Ruined Lives.

      • [not a Dr]

        WHOA! Thats a good song title.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          It’s actually an album title. Eyehategod, 2000.

          • [not a Dr]

            Does that mean I lose my metal-nerd award?

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            You only lose it if you don’t go listen to it right away!

    • Vice-President of Hell

      47 hours? hahaha. i have 265 and it’s still growin’

  • Alexandre Barata

    I can’t think of a respectful band that has 2 full time vocalists… Deathcore was always too formulaic (and the formula ain’t that great) to be good. Also single-note breakdowns destroy my mood!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      What about Carcass? Well, I don’t really know if they count as “full time vocalists” because they also play instruments…

      • Alexandre Barata

        Yep when I said full-time vocalists I was talking about guys with just vocal roles :) Like Linkin Park for example.

        • JohnC

          Chester is the only just vocal role in LP, Mike plays guitar.

          • Alexandre Barata

            Ah, how noob I was with that one? Damn and I listened so much LP back when Hybrid Theory came out! My 13 years old self felt so cool listening to that album, and to Chocolate Starfish…

    • Diego Molero

      Diablo Swing Orchestra.

    • Alan Smithee

      Oh come now.

      3 Inches of Blood, Mastodon, Old Man Gloom, SOAD…
      And that’s just metal alone.

      • Vice-President of Hell

        Dying Fetus, Sean doing a great vocal work there

      • Alexandre Barata

        I probably explained me wrongly. Full-time vocalists for me are guys that only do vocals, so none of the bands you said can count :)

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          3IoB up to and including “Fire Up the Blades” does, their guitarist only started doing vocals on “Here Waits Thy Doom”.

          • Alexandre Barata

            Seems to be true that. But not my fault, the only power metal I listen to needs to have much more cheese! (and now the Arwen’ debut come to mind, you could make a fondue with that much cheese!)

        • [not a Dr]

          Dedicated vocalists? Vocalist-onlies? Unexpect had 3 full-time vocalists of which 2 happened to also be full-time guitar players…

          Your comment made me remember that Unexpect called it quits. Now I’m going to cry myself to sleep.

          • Alexandre Barata

            That was unexpected!

        • BABYMETAL I win!

          • Alexandre Barata

            The keyword was respectful, but you still won! ahah

    • Reese Burns

      How about Black Crown Initiate?

    • [not a Dr]

      Amaranthe?

    • ferrousbeuller

      Current Scarborough Symmetry. Last album was pretty awesome…

    • Phil Daly

      Extreme Noise Terror! Could probably argue the case for Darkthrone in more recent years.

  • Reese Burns

    I heard rumours about an All Shall Perish reunion, hopefully it’s true, I still listen to them from time to time, and a new album would be welcome.

  • Vice-President of Hell

    \Regarding proper songs, “One Last Martini” overuses a painfully stereotypical deathcore riff that sounds like The Red Chord but a tad simpler and has an uninspiring breakdown to boot.\\
    One Last Martini is a eleven years old song from their split with Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus in 2005, and it was re-recorded for beast. Stereotypical? only if despised icon made that stereotype

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      That’s interesting, didn’t see a mention of that and I’ve generally stuck to their full-lengths so that completely got by me.

  • chitownproud85

    I’m not sure whats worse. The video, or the music attached to it. This site does a lot of good – please do not waste precious posts defending whatever the hell that was.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    rurb rurb rurb rarb chugga chugga rurb rurb rurb rarb chugga chugga scream, fucken fark
    chugga chugga rurb rurb…

  • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

    “Job for a Cowboy has been a boring modern death metal band since Genesis.”

    Did you even listen to Sun Eater? Anything but boring IMO.