Deathcore favorites DESPISED ICON may have called it quits in 2010, but there's nothing like watching a scene a band helped forge take off without them to prompt re-emergence four years later. Fans grumbling impatiently for the band's new album can rejoice now that 2016 brings them "Beast", the Montreal ensemble's first full-length since 2009's "Day of Mourning".
To recap the enormity of this band, DESPISED ICON is a seven-piece riot squad boasting not one but two growlers, Alex Erian in mid-range and Steve Marois diving in the deeper end while pulling from his arsenal pukes and squawks abominable enough to send goblins scurrying. Eric Jarrin, Yannick St-Amand and Ben Landreville make up DESPISED ICON's triple guitar attack, while Sebastien Piche (bass) and Alex Pelletier (drums) round up the band's vicious rhythm section.
Many bands call themselves deathcore, but DESPISED ICON exhibits the two pulped components better than anyone, and nothing's changed on "Beast". If you can picture AGNOSTIC FRONT or TERROR with stomping hardcore grooves, breakdowns and gang shouts set to fiercer lead vocals, cruder riffs and dizzying blast sections ala CATTLE DECAPITATION, you get an idea of you're in for.
"The Aftermath" is all of the aforementioned elements wrapped into a butt-ugly track; it's one of the nastiest hardcore songs you'll ever hear. "Inner Demons" sticks more in the death metal leagues with a ton of tech blitzing behind Alex Erian and Steve Marois. The manic tradeoffs between the two during a trifecta of subsequent breakdowns is enough to pound listeners into submission before Alex Pelletier's sewing machine effects throughout "Drapeau Noir" keeps them planted down. Pelletier's blast beats are brutal, but expect the dynamic to shift toward a hardcore mosh in the last minute of the song. The reverse structure applies to "Bad Vibes", which leads with a mosh and vaults through grind and thrash segments. The song is only strengthened with the additional of some of Steve Marois's ghastly pig squeals—also found on "Time Bomb" and the title cut. As hard as Marois and Erian raze their esophagi, it's no wonder DESPISED ICON took a hiatus.
The cinematic orchestration of "Dedicated To Extinction" serves as a sweeping interlude en route to the self-explanatory "Grind Forever". As with the rest of the album, flurrying adjustments between grind and hardcore modes on "Time Bomb" and "One Last Martini" (Reverend Horton Heat might be wont to skip this not-so-happy hour) become decimating workovers. This album may have been seven years in the making, but there'll be no DESPISED ICON fan out there who won't consider "Beast" worth its gruesome wait.