Despised Icon called it quits in 2010 after all members decided life on the road wasn’t the best option when you want to have a career, pay a mortgage or raise children. All? No, one irreducible Canadian, Alexandre Erian, decided he didn’t want any of that and formed a new band called Obey the Brave and continued to tour. Four years later, his determination seemed to have inspired every other member to come back to the life they had left on the road, but in a more reasonable manner. No more all out touring, just a few shows here and there to please the fans and themselves… until 2016 when Despised Icon announced their come back. Still no commitment to a full life of tours (which is understandable) but a new album to please the fans, and themselves.
From the first song, it’s quite obvious the band wanted to go back so much to the sound of In the arms of perdition that they took out one of the riffs from the title track as well as some of the rhythm. Not the most subtle move for them but then being repetitive never prevented from Bolt Thrower from being a classic Death metal band. Like many now classic Death metal is not focused on innovation but on writing songs using a template that worked time and time again. They know it, fans know it but everybody is pleased.
It’s not to say all songs on this album sound exactly like previous songs. It could not be further from the truth. Bruisers like Inner demons make great use of the dual vocals, Drapeau noir (Black flag in french) is introduced with a Melodic Death metal riffs and solo in the vein of The Black Dahlia Murder and Bad vibes verges more on the side of Beatdown induced Death metal with a slow pace recalling the best of Dying Fetus with a memorable hook.
However, unlike Dying Fetus or more brutally oriented band, Despised Icon are excellent songwriters who know how to get the crowd moving with a rousing combination of blast and beatdown while keeping things interesting with grooving riffs and a combination of vocals that truly justify the presence of two screamers (a feat no one in their right mind would have thought possible).
In less than thirty minutes, Despised Icon comes back to the more hardcore and natural sound of their first two albums with better songs and puts slightly aside the more Deathcore sounding Day of mourning and it’s over-compressed production. Despised Icon are not followers, they created the Deathcore sound but always kept their identity thanks to the use of syncopated rhythm that no other band in the genre truly mastered, probably for failing to understand how to truly incorporate rap beats in a metal sound. Even if Erian joked recently about enjoying some Justin Bieber songs, it only shows that he and his band mates are not blindfolded and just pick ideas from everywhere to keep their mix of Hardcore and Death metal interesting.
Beast is not just a return to form, it’s a new excellent album from one of the best Deathcore band the genre as given us. All glory to Canadian kings of moshing, they have returned and will have no problem to conquer the crown.