Despite the fact that, as with most new sub-genres and sub-strains of metal, saturation point swiftly seemed to strip deathcore of any creative merit, it’s all too easy to forget that at one time the likes of Montreal sextet Despised Icon were legitimately pioneering. An exhilarating collision between street-tough hardcore vibes and death metal extremity, this fearsome mash-up paved the way for a new wave of brutality which continues to inform many of today’s emerging talent (even if the sound has been somewhat hijacked by the infinitely less convincing Emmure/Attila generation).
Dissolving in 2010, Despised Icon may have survived the deathcore backlash and, after a series of hugely successful reunion shows, retained a rabid fanbase, yet comeback album proper ‘Beast’ does regrettably begin to reveal a band that, after such a lengthy time away, are being outstripped by their peers. Although by no means a bad record, the majority of ‘Beast’ feels rather clunky and hurried, and, beyond the band’s traditional formula of weighty grooves (‘Bad Vibes’) and savage blasting (‘Grind Forever’), this ten track affair offers little in genuine replay value and any tangible growth.
Glimpses of vintage Despised Icon pedigree do occasionally shine through, with the flick-knife tempo shifts of opening gambit ‘The Aftermath’ and the title track’s putrid deathly slam stylings trading blows with anything from the band’s peak form material, yet regardless of all being thoroughly ferocious stuff there’s little escaping the fact that a scene Despised Icon had a significant hand in defining has morphed into something which, nigh on six years since their last full-length record, has left the once innovating Montrealers looking rather vulnerable and out of touch.
Written by Tony Bliss (@TBliss88)