Monday, 3 October 2016

Despised Icon "Beast" (2016)

News of this bands return wasn't the most exciting story id heard this year but it was certainly unexpected for the Canadian Quebec "Technical Deathcore" outfit to announce their reunion. They were a short lived group who released two albums in the prime of the scenes popularity and split rather abruptly, ending their steady rise. Id barely touched their records since seeing them live a few times and to be fair I hadn't really missed them, Despised Icon were a fair shade better than most of the generic sounding bands at the time, however their "Technical" edge doesn't separate them from a tired sound and their reunion is as if a day hadn't passed by. At first it sounded like one element had been dropped but by track five, "Bad Vibes", it drops in almost instinctively. The track sets itself up perfectly with a low djenty timed chug from the guitars and in true Despised Icon fashion drops the ridiculous bree squee vocals that sound more comical than anything else. Fortunately they are not frequent on the record, certainly not awful but a vocal style I care less for with time.

The record as a whole doesn't leap out with any remarkable tracks and tends to scurry its way through a blur of tight timely riffing that shuffles back and forth, switching and changing up with all sorts of mini guitar riffs between large groovy or heavy moments, chaperoned by mechanical, dizzying drumming. It blasts and chops away with little fluidity or transition, hammering on and in the instant the guitars adjust they follow with another volley of earth shaking rattling. The bass guitar is a mere extension of the rhythm and the vocal are harsh, blunt and monotone screams with enough texture for reason but often dispelling screeching over the dense, slightly fuzzy guitar tone.

The record rarely brakes from brutality and is spliced in two with the interlude track "Dedicated To Extinction". A short, dark and foreboding symphonic peace that sticks out like a sore thumb. It had me scrambling to my playlist, trying to find why it had skipped ahead from the "Beast" record. The only merit I can give is the records production, aside from the vocals its a very well rounded record with a lot of warm and well mixed tones for each of the instruments that can withstand the blitz of the drumming. That's what made a rather hollow record enjoyable for me, its listen-ability. Sure there are good riffs, breakdowns but no sense of theme or something grander than a collection of riffs emerges. "I am my biggest threat" a lyric that jumped out as a poor rewording of "I am my own worst enemy".

Rating: 3/10

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