DESPISED ICON – Beast
Seven years removed from their last album and fresh in signing a new record deal with Nuclear Blast, "Beast" is the fifth studio album from Canada deathcore leaders Despised Icon. Employing a dual death growl/ screaming hardcore attack on the vocal front allows the band to flex its musical muscles – especially in terms of gang vocals a la Biohazard on the French sung "Drapeau Noir" or the forceful follow up "Bad Vibes". There’s a surprising amount of clarity in terms of the riffing and tempo/ segment changes – the group putting a lot of foresight in terms of the flow of the songs and not having these 10 tracks be all about the breakdowns or low grooves.
When the band choose to blast in "The Aftermath" and then go into an evil, almost doom-like death crawl, you can sense an intertwining of Napalm Death and Obituary. A lot of deathcore bores me to tears because song to song there’s no dynamics, everything flatlines in terms of execution or separation. Despised Icon establish that whether it’s through a particular guitar combination, a sing-a-long/ shout-a-long chorus, or the twistedness of the tempos going from doom to death to hardcore and back again that they are all about beating you into a powerful submission sonically. Favorites change on the fly- one minute it can be the evil speed and sick double kick/ snare combinations for "Inner Demons", the next minute the wild squeals and passionate, caustic screams for "Time Bomb".
Subscribing to a less is more philosophy in getting the job done in a half-hour, "Beast" lives up to its namesake. Priorities with family, burnout, and other bands (guitarist Eric Jarrin with Heaven’s Cry, vocalist Alexandre Erian for Obey the Brave) pay dividends when this set of musicians brings themselves back to the Despised Icon fold. Transcending the genre and proving their leadership – let’s bring this intensity back on stage gentlemen.