DESPISED ICON
"The Ills of Modern Man"

(Century Media)

01. In the Arms of Perdition
02. Furtive Monologue
03. Quarantine
04. The Ills of Modern Man
05. Fractured Hand
06. Sheltered Reminiscence
07. Nameless
08. Tears of the Blameless
09. Oval Shaped Incisions
10. Fainted Blue Ornaments

RATING: 8/10

DESPISED ICON's "The Ills of Modern Man" is one devastatingly heavy album. The Montreal act follows the shape-shifting mix of hardcore and death metal of "The Healing Process" with an album that moves into more of a death metal direction to good effect, the result sounding like a band that is even more confident in its craft.

Though hardly conventional in song structuring, "The Ills of Modern" is a more focused effort. It is also a tighter album, the band moving as one through every spine-cracking time change, down-tuned riff shift, and earth-moving rhythm. Essentially devoid of melody, the album's strength lies in the skull-crushing riffs of producer/engineer Yannick St. Amand and Eric Jarrin. This is an album that will have you marveling at the array of impossibly heavy and constantly attacking guitars of said duo. Album-opener "In the Arms of Perdition" is an excellent example of the band's firepower, blasting and stuttering its way through a blaze of death metal destructiveness. Just when the blasting seems on the verge of overwhelming the listener, the band switches to a brief groove that provides a respite of sorts, allowing for a bout of steady head banging. The more times you listen, the more times you'll find a certain riff that warrants repeat listens. A case in point is when "Furtive Monologue" shifts to a bottom-heavy riff that would not be out of place on a CROWBAR album.

The dueling vocals of Alex Erian and Steve Marois continue to be an important component of the DESPISED ICON sound. The death metal growls and hardcore-esque barking, peppered with well-placed gang shouts, by themselves are powerful, but when the mighty pig squeal is unleashed the impact made is surprisingly effective, as much for the sick delivery as the patterning. As silly as it may sound, those squeals are simply fantastic.

"The Ills of Modern Man" is an album that explodes from the start and keeps piling on the layers of sonic violence. The boys never relent, but the also keep the arrangements from ever becoming boring. The pain inflicted on this baby is downright pleasurable.

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