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The world of death metal is filled with scenesters, wannabes, poseurs, and generic crap. In a scene that is rife with so much bullshit it is important to screen out all the garbage and only listen to the music that makes itself worthwhile. What makes a death metal band worthwhile? In my opinion the band must be unique, the music may or may not have clear influences, but it should not be blatantly derivative of anything. If a band wants to be "retro" and try and emulate a sound of the past, fine, that's their prerogative. If I want to hear some classic death/thrash I'd rather listen to some old school Dying Fetus, early Cryptopsy (None So Vile era) and some influence from the brutal death metal scene (a la Cinerary, Brodequin, Vile, etc.) Although these influences are readily apparent, the way Despised Icon combines them is fairly unique. It doesn't blast out of the speakers and grab me by the throat the way Dying Fetus' Killing on Adrenaline did the first time I heard it, but I can't say that I have heard this before. Like Dying Fetus, Despised Icon combines some brutal riffs with some crazy technical runs, the breakdowns are less often and much less devastating than the Fetus, but they do the trick. The drum work is reminiscent of Flo Mournier's performance on None So Vile but slower. The way Alexandre Erian experiments with the cymbals is very impressive, I haven't heard anything quite like it. The vocal attack varies from brutal guttural death growls and harsh, ear splitting screams.
So we have established that Despised Icon is original enough and good enough to be considered worthwhile, add to that the fact that this is their debut for Galy Records and you have the makings of a killer death metal band. I am deducting one skull because it doesn't grab the way a five skull album should, but these guys are definitely worth checking out.
Originally Published @ www.metaljudgment.com (c) 2003