This is a strange one and I tell you why. It’s strange because there is much mumbling, tutting, sideways looks, eye rolling, slagging off, looking down at etc. etc. of the genre known as Deathcore. What is Deathcore may you ask? Well I ‘m glad you have asked, otherwise this would be one the most pointless and rambling reviews I have ever written…and believe me it would be up against some stiff competition.
Here is a starter for ten – ‘Deathcore is an extreme metal fusion genre that combines musical elements of death metal and metalcore and sometimes hardcore punk. It makes use of death metal riffs and blast beats, as well as metalcore breakdowns. Deathcore gained most prominence within the southwestern United States, especially Arizona and inland southern California.
In summary, like the proverbial magpie, Deathcore begs, borrows and steals all the best bits for trad, hardcore, thrash and BM and forms it into a sticky, sickly paste you brush on your teeth and try not get it into your trendy flicked hair and Atreyu hoodie. To be fair it sounds like I am going in hard on this genre BUT, I’m not…just providing context that Deathcore and fans thereafter are often derided as talentless, feckless twats with a predilection for stupid lyrics, piggy squealed vocals and dressing like someone who has covered themselves in glue and ram-raided the ‘metal’ t-shirt section of H&M. That said though, from purely a musical standpoint, I love all of the genres that are purloined by the Deathcore movement and whilst much of the scenester posing and often tactless lyrics are certainly idiotic to the extreme, there can be much to enjoy amongst the hubris of the scene which, if it were made of chocolate, would almost certainly eat itself. Apologies this is taking far much longer than it needs to.
Canadians, Despised Icon, are one of the founding fathers of the Deathcore movement and as such, are held in high regard by fans of the DC scene and you can see why on this, their sixth full length effort. The playing for starters is magnificent, big, massive, huge weighty slabs of infernal grinding riffs that anchor the entire album that whilst it dabbles in some more experimental, thematic shifts as it appears to try and stretch it’s arms and theatrically yawns, it doesn’t dispel that there is much to like here regardless of any preconceptions you may bring to the party. The drumming also needs to be given a mention here, and although it’s clearly drum triggered and produced within an inch of it’s life, is hugely technical and deserves the plaudits it will undoubtedly receive. Indeed, reading back through their previous reviews, press and traversing through their back catalogue, drummer, Alex Pelletier, is referenced as one of the scene’s most progressive and talented drummers and his blast beats alone are a thing of beauty. The vocals (which have often employed the dreaded ‘pig squeal’ over the years but by and large that certain vocal predilection is largely absent here) are barked, growling commands to mosh and when things settle into a groove/breakdown from the breakneck blast beats, rather than being trite, genre tropes, seem to fit the songs well and lead to what can only be described as an enjoyable listen.
I have to admit that I have seen Depised Icon a few times over the years and have always enjoyed them live but have largely steered clear of their recorded output, having, as I did (do), reservations about the genre itself, but, like other bands in this genre such as Suicide Silence, Carnifex, Whitechapel and others, if you dig beneath your own preconceptions (as well as the general scene politics, silly hair) (maybe I am just jealous?), posturing, ill-informed and ill-judged lyrical content)), you’ll find bands such as Despised Icon, giving you a rollickingly good dose of heavy, groovy, death metal inflected fun. There is much to enjoy on this album and I strongly advise you to give it a chance.
(7/10 Nick Griffiths)