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Directionless Mayhem and Destruction - 28%

JamesIII, February 7th, 2010

Despised Icon are a band that has seemingly taken the metal land by storm over the years, becoming a part of a relatively new scene known as "deathcore." As with most scenes in music in the modern era, I was blissfully ignorant to its existence, as I generally don't absorb metal from mainstream outlets, nor any other brand of music for that matter. Yet a couple of friends seemingly in love with all the "br00tality" (I still don't get the double zeroes, but what do I know...) basically enticed me with relentless destruction and mayhem in this deathcore scene. You know what, this is precisely what I got.

I've come to see deathcore as something of a metaphor to working with a jackhammer without ear plugs. You are embracing a very loud and relentless machine that is not doubt impressive in its potential to wreak utter havoc, both on you and your surroundings. In the end, you feel a little hearing impaired, yet you feel no desire to ever do it again. The next time you embrace such madness, you'll smarter to stuff your ears with wads of cotton balls.

Of the bands I encountered, Despised Icon seemed the least offensive. Its still deathcore, which I'm assuming is a sub-genre of metal. You could have fooled me, since all the bands I saw ranged between slightly manlier versions of the whiney emo scene and some homeboys who prefer to growl instead of rap. I'm a tad confused, I never expected to see the urban outfitted taking up guitars and playing loud ass metal. This is the 21st Century and its embodiment of a cultural wasteland is more evident now than ever. Yet apparel and "threads" don't make a band. Music makes a band. In terms of sheer technicality, Despised Icon are more than commendable. Yet technicality alone does not make a good metal album.

I've noticed in deathcore that vocals and drums seem to be at the forefront while the guitars are more of an afterthought. We have a similiar case here, though not to the extent of other acts. We have mechanical sounding music that possesses no soul, and instead thrashes around like a mindless destructive force with little guidance or direction. Uncontrolled chaos, contrary to modern belief, does not equal good heavy metal. Yes heavy metal can be very brutal, but its also concise, intelligent, and has a purpose. Despised Icon misses this point entirely, instead creating something impressive in terms of musicianship, but making the final product incoherent and an exercise in tedium. Even when we do get some enjoyable moments, we are hit with another left turn or impending whirlwind of disjointed shit.

My biggest issue with this album is the vocal performance. Since deathcore is heavily reliant on the vocals driving the music, its no wonder most of it suffers tremedously. Alot of bands today use two vocalists, which I'm soon learning doesn't equal a two fronted vocal approach. Instead, the vocals are highly identical, throwing the listener for a loop as to why we have an excessive number of musicians. The vocals are the usual unintelligent growls and other nonsense meant to intimidate by being utterly disgusting and pointless. I'm not overly fond of death inspired vocals in the first place, but I am a big fan of Chuck Schuldiner and John Tardy, neither of whom I can see supporting this. I love to see vocalists and styles evolve too, but this is essentially the death growl's version of severe mental retardation. Couple that with the lyrics, and you're in for a storm of pure jack-assery as only "The Healing Process" can deliver.

For all its destructive power and technical prowess, Despised Icon's music is counterbalanced by sheer nonsense and disjointed boredom. Notice I didn't mention any stand-out tracks, because there really weren't any. Such disjointed songs rarely lends themselves to being memorable, one of the things I've always thought was a reason for making music. Even death metal can be memorable, such as Malevolent Creation, Death, and even Brutality's works of the early 1990's carried this aspect. All of these bands were also technical and indeed impressive, but their music was intelligent. I can't see this deathcore scene as a necessary evolution in metal's history, and much like metalcore, its worn out its welcome within only a marginal amount of time. I have no patience for this nonsensical form of metal, regardless of its brutality level, and will no proceed to ignore this scene until it is replaced within a few years when the scenesters grow tired of the trend induced monotony,