ALBUM REVIEW: Despised Icon – Purgatory

Release Date: November 15th 2019
Label: Nuclear Blast Records


After returning with 2016’s ‘Beast’, Canadian deathcore troupe Despised Icon have seen a welcome embrace from the scene after a four-year hiatus.

With the reunion record proving that they still retain their spark, follow-up effort ‘Purgatory’ shows what deathcore will look like as we enter a new decade.

Opening with the restrained and ambient ‘Dernier Souffle’, albeit a technique that has opened many records in recent years by using brevity to their advantage, the impact of the crushing title-track that follows warrants its inclusion.

Tremolo picking and disjointed accents lay the foundation for the dual vocal assault that permeates ‘Purgatory’. With a streamlined approach to writing, the track cuts through every technique the sub-genre has utilised, ending on a slogging coda filled with squealing guitars and drilling double-kick patterns.

For a group that’s deep into their second decade, the breakneck mosh of ‘Light Speed’ is a welcome addition. With subtle synth flourishes and a well-placed break, the track imbues the energy of an up-and-coming band with the technique of a road worn group.

As the record pummels forward, the group pull out many highlights, such as the palm-muted guitar assault of ‘Slow Burning’ and the punishing Slayer inspired riffing of ‘Snakes In The Grass’, with the latter melding death metal and hardcore to a pure distillation of what the sub-genre was based on, peppered with high screams and pig squeals for extra measure.

Somehow building on the high intensity record, ‘Vies D’Anges’ dives headfirst into chaos. Brimming with a barrage of screams, whiplash-inducing blast beats, and a hyperactive breakdown, the track is sure to decimate venues when presented in a live setting.

Following on from its breathless predecessor, ‘Moving On’ brings the pace down, focusing on sinister lead lines and layering the track’s dynamics to reveal a melodic and well earned guitar solo. Ending on a swinging coda, it utilises every member of the fourteen legged machine that is Despised Icon.

Concluding with ‘Dead Weight’, the group deliver a defiant and chugging final blast of deathcore. Sliding between percussive riffs, blast beats and melodic bridges, it ends the record with a punishing salvo.

With ‘Purgatory’ relentlessly pushing the limits of deathcore, have crafted a record that takes them back to scene leaders whilst also raising the bar for their contemporaries. Displaying power and urgency, ‘Purgatory’ is a must listen for any fan of extreme metal.