Artist: Despised Icon
Release Date: Nov 15th 2019
Review by Steve Jenkins
Montreal masters of brutality, Despised Icon, are without question one of the pioneers of deathcore and they are also one of the most respected out of all the bands that have come and gone. The band went on a 4 year hiatus back in 2010, much to the dismay of their loyal fanbase. But it didn't take them long to get that itch once again and create some of the heaviest and crushing music that they're so well known for. Despised Icon would release "Beast" in 2016, their first album since 2009's "Day Of Mourning" - and whilst it was a good comeback, it didn't really leave a lasting impression. It was a mostly forgettable album, but I can safely say that their latest effort, "Purgatory", is Despised Icon in their heaviest and finest form.
The album starts off strong, with the title track "Purgatory" smashing your eardrums with pummeling riffs, blastbeats, and those beautiful hardcore/deathcore dual vocals from Alex and Steve. There is no shortage of those trademark "BREE-BREE's" that Despised have have famous, and both vocalists seem to be at the top of their game, serving up some "The Ills Of Modern Man" realness. "Light Speed" is exactly what the title says, incredibly fast-paced and non-stop from beginning to end, complete and total chaos with a sickening breakdown towards the end that will go off when played live.
Whilst "Beast" had more of a focus on the hardcore side of Despised Icon, perhaps due to Alex's other project Obey The Brave, "Purgatory" leans more toward the death metal spectrum. Which is perfectly fine with me and I actually feel they perform much better when writing blistering death metal inspired music with that added groove thrown into the mix. I thought that I would get sick of all the breakdowns and pig squeal vocals, but Despised Icon are just so damn good at it, it's infectious.
"Snake In The Grass" is another example of how they can go from Cryptopsy or Aborted levels of brutal, to catchy and crunchy riffs with just the right amount of groove and of course the hardcore influence. It wouldn't be a Despised Icon album either without a French track, and we get that here with the extreme sounds of "Vies D'Anges" - another monster track that refuses to let up with sheer ferocity and destruction. "Apex Predator" is a personal highlight, which showcases some crazy guitar work, even a solo that absolutely shreds! The production on "Purgatory" is very good also, the mix doesn't get too muddy which can happen when you've got so much going on. It's very big and loud sounding, and the guitars and drums don't fight over each other to be heard on here, same can be said with the dual vocals.
It's been about a decade since some of the most well-known deathcore albums have been released, at a time when the genre was at an all time high. Since then, there's certainly been a bit of a downhill slope for the genre, but when a band like Despised Icon comes along and changes the game, not once but multiple times throughout their illustrious career, you've gotta give them props. The band have not only redeemed themselves with "Purgatory" but they've also created one of the most outstanding and brutal offerings you'll hear this year. Despised Icon helped create deathcore as a genre, and now they stand taller, stronger and more extreme than ever. TABARNAK!
9 out of 10.
"Purgatory" is out November 15th via Nuclear Blast Records.