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A few years ago I used to be huge into deathcore and metalcore and just finding the most "Br00tal" and "greasy" as we liked to call it breakdowns and just listen to music full of that kind of stuff. In the past couple years I have "progressed" to mostly black metal and also ambient and folk music and even quite a bit of Indie rock. Haha how contradictory isn’t it? Regardless, even to this day this album would have to be my favourite deathcore album and that I can listen to without getting annoyed by the poor musicianship and constant breakdowns.
The thing that is awesome about Despised is the fact that they use two vocalists. Alexandre Erian utilizes "hardcore" shouts which are more adapted to a deathcore type of music, so they sound awesome. The second vocalist Steve Marois uses excellent, really painful sounding highs, and deep lows, and on this album even the notoriously hated "pig squeal." To be honest I do not mind them, they are tolerable because they do not sound overly stupid. The vocalists take turns performing and they do a very solid job of expressing their lyrics and the feeling of the music throughout the songs.
The guitar work is quick, rapid, fast, tres vite, whatever you would like to call it, not very technical, but this album has many, many awesome riffs that could somewhat fit into the death metal category on some songs. The use of breakdowns is relatively frequent but none are the same sounding and not all are just done to create the most "greasy, crunchy" sound, they are created to sound different than the stereotypical breakdown, so Despised gets my props for that. Overall the breakdowns are pretty memorable, at least a few of them are such as the ones in "In the Arms of Perdition" the one at the end (which I am currently listening to, haha it still excites me) is really, really awesome, with long pig squeal and then the bass drop, its really br00tal. A couple other notable ones are the ones in "Furtive Monologue, Nameless (which has some awesome pulling on the guitar strings to create a really dissonant effect) and the "Sheltered Reminiscence" one is different and awesome.
On to the drumming. Well Alex "Grind" Pelletier, is in my opinion one of the best drummers in the game right now, like Jesus, his speed and consistency is ridiculous, in the song "The Ills of Modern Man" the things he does with the drum kit are incredible. Look up the video of them playing the song live from their "Montreal Assault" DVD where its just him playing the drums, it blows your mind.
The bass is relatively quiet, it generally follows the guitars but adds a great deepness and heaviness to the overall atmosphere of the songs.
The music is actually generally quite dark in nature, not just gory or what not that is typical for deathcore, but the lyrics are far more intelligent which I really do admire.
Of special note is the last song "Fainted Blue Ornaments." This song is just amazing, the final breakdown of the album which has just repeated words shouted over and over again, and into this actually beautiful (yes I used the word beautiful to describe a deathcore song) outro with very mournful sounding guitar tapping, that create a sense of longing, and then finally explode into an incredible tremolo riff that leads out the song with the other guitarist squealing away on the strings and the two vocalists shouting back and forth, and ending with Steve Marois doing some final very heart wrenching high shrieks where the last one lasts about 20 seconds as the song fades out and ends the album.
This album is certainly a classic in the deathcore genre and Despised Icon's shining moment hands down. This album is still a favourite in my books even though I have expanded into other genres of music. I still give it a good spin to feel like I am back in High school with my buddies listening the most "greasy" breakdowns and br00tal music. Good job Despised Icon, TABARNAK
If you got a good look at Despised Icon, you'd be forgiven for passing them off as some wiggercore band. When you listen to the music, however, you are greatly surprised. The band are all extremely competent musicians and easily one of the best of the deathcore genre. They mesh together their death metal and hardcore influences perfectly. While most deathcore bands are usually 70/30 death metal/hardcore, or vice versa, Despised Icon easily use 50/50 of both.
This album, The Ills of Modern Man, is their best album, in my opinion anyway. From the first bludgeoning riff of In The Arms of Perdition, right up the solo (Despised Icon's first solo, to the best of my knowledge), you know these guys are the real deal.
Steve and Alex provide a dual vocal assault unparalleled by any other band. While Steve provides low grunts and pig squeals (Good ones), Alex counters his bandmate hardcore-influenced genuinely angry sounding shouted vocals. The two balance eachother out perfectly. Gang shouts are also used, but not often to ruin the album.
The guitars are brilliantly played, with chugging death metal riffs and occassional faster almost thrashy parts (Nameless). Breakdowns are frequently used, but no one breakdown sounds the same as another. They are always varied and always heavy. They range from your Suffocation/Dying Fetus influenced slams to hardcore influenced chugfests. The album contains a few solos, which seem skillful enough, but aren't all that long. Perhaps the guitarist was selling himself short, unconfident in his skills so he kept his solos to minimum length. I honestly don't know, but had these solos been used more and made longer, I think this album could've gotten a 100.
I don't think the bass was all that audible, so I'll move right onto the drums. Alex Pelletier is a great drummer, whose main focus is on the double pedal approach. At times they sound triggered, but whether they are or not, I don't know. Point is, they sound great, and really add the music (the breakdowns especially), as drums should. Perfectly executed and face stompingly fast.
If you're not into deathcore or the most commonly hated aspects of deathcore (breakdowns, pig squeals, gang shouting, all of which sound great here, jussayin') then this is not for you. If you don't mind deathcore or any of these elements in moderation, this could possibly become your favourite album. It's honestly that good. Give it a try.
Highlights: In The Arms of Perdition, Nameless, The Ills of Modern Man, Fainted Blue Ornaments
Despised Icon are one of the few 'core bands I like. Nothing too original, not really heavy or brutal, but very decent and enjoyable with your typical triggered drums, soft guitar tone, and angst-ridden, whiny metalcore vocals. It's not that bad though as at least death metal growls are still present and some catchy riffs can be perceived here and there. Relax, this ain't Suicide Silence, so no sissy screamo shit here.
As I mentioned, the album has many metalcore moments with the vocalist crying his lungs out very much like screamo bands does, except a little deeper. But the album is mostly plagued with decent death metal growls and some ultra high-pitched vocals (aka pig squeal) and the lyrics ain't that bad. Some pseudo intellectual stuff here, gore and blood over there, kill kill kill die die. And also you van hear most of the lyrics (except when the pig squeals come along), so overall the vocals aren't bad.
The guitars sound pretty interesting though. Imagine metalcore riffs a la Bring Me The Horizon. Ok, maybe not, but imagine your typical metalcore riffs mixed with Devourment-like riffs mixed with the cleanest, softest, prettiest quality possible. Imagine Devourment without their nasty, crunchy, heavy as fuck tone playing their lamest riffs mixed with Unearth and you'll get Despised Icon's guitar work. Quite interesting indeed as some of their songs will stay inside your head for days (don't know if it's good or bad). Of course, all this without any trace of a bass guitar.
Triggers... of course this album (like every 'core band) has to have triggers, otherwise the drums would sound like crap. But let me tell you this guy knows what he's doing. But be always prepared to go to sleep, for every 30 seconds you'll hear at least 1 breakdown. Yes, that little breakdown thingy that scene kids love is hear, but hey, at least they don't play those dissonant breakdowns that put you to sleep right away. These guys at least make them enjoyable and catchy.
This album is perfect to blast when you're pissed off due to your parents not letting you watch Dr. House. Then you may grow up and look for true heavy music.
I'm not giving Despised Icon's "The Ills of Modern Man" CD a perfect 100% because I'm a huge deathcore fan. I'm doing it because there's a lot of shitty deathcore bands out there that sound just as shitty as the next deathcore band. There's a select few deathcore bands that actually pull it off. Despised Icon made a huge statement with this release! They've taken control of the deathcore genre!
This new CD "The Ills of Modern Man" has a similar sound to their "The Healing Process". The duel-vocals give the album more character. You have Alex with high-pitched screams, and Steve with growls and squeals. The vocals overall are a little more harsh then their previous release.. By harsh, I mean deeper, more intense. There's one massive improvement from the first CD to this new one, the instruments. At times, it's so fast. But at other times it's so slow, but in a good way! They have some amazing riffs! There's some intense breakdowns!! There's even a guitar solo! There's also the infamous Despised Icon drumming that is so fast you wonder if it's actually a man drumming, or a machine. The CD overall sounds much, much more like pure deathcore then their previous release did. They've sounded more like metalcore and death metal back with their release "The Healing Process".
Okay, the first track of the album "In the Arms of Predition" explodes from the get go, Alex P. lights up the drums with skull raping speed, and Steve takes control of the vocals pretty much the entire song until the guitar solo, Despised Icon's FIRST guitar solo! And for those deathcore lovers who appreciate a good breakdown, this song has by far one of the best breakdowns, hands down. There's death metal riffs, guitar solos, explosive drumming, breakdowns, pig squeals, this song has it all!
Now, I'll dissect my personal favorite song of the album "A Fractured Hand". The song seems to have more of a "love song" theme to it. The song slowly fades in with a guitar. Alex P. cues the drums, then Alex E. comes in with his "hardcore" scream. Every part of the song is executed perfectly, including the section of the song where gang vocals are introduced. The instruments are played in what seems like perfect harmony. The growls that Steve uses in the song brings chills down your spine. I'm not a fan of love songs, but Despised Icon has caused me to change my mind about writing off all songs 'cause they're love songs. Some may even be able to relate to the song. It's a meaningful song.
This album, is by far Despised Icon's most intense album, the guitars are mind melting, the drums are machine like, inhumanly fast at times, and the vocals are "in your face, knock you down and curb stomp you while you're down" brutal. Despised Icon has changed their sound, and for the better!
All in all, Despised Icon's release "The Ills of Modern Man" is an album that can be enjoyed by even those anti-deathcore metal heads. If you haven't heard Despised Icon before, I would DEFINITELY give this album a listen to. If you haven't liked Despised Icon in the past, this album has a new sound to it, and it's a lot more "death metal" sounding then Despised Icon previously sounded. I HIGHLY recommend this album! I'd go as far as saying it's the best deathcore release in the yet!
Buy it! Download it! Steal the damn CD if you have to!
Every time I think of Despised Icon, I picture that shirt they have with the surgical tools arrayed around the collar. If that isn't a rip-off of the Tools Of The Trade EP by Carcass, I certainly do not know what is. And that pisses me off, because Despised Icon don't deserve to lick the pussy sweat off of Carcass's endocervical brush.
Despised Icon are, admittedly, a talented Canadian deathcore group. However, talent does nothing to bolster the enjoyability of the music. It is merely a tool used to facilitate the musical ideas of the composer. If the composer doesn't have a concept of what sounds good, then predictably his music will be bad. Talent does nothing to remedy this, only make talent necessary to perform his bad music.
I never desire to hate a band. I give every band I listen to a lengthy, indiscriminate assessment (occasionally more than once, over the span of a year). Not only have I given Despised Icon a chance with their recordings, but also a chance in a live setting. Based on the multiple disappointments I've had with this band, I fully embrace my hatred for their bland, chugging, tough-guy-wannabe deathcore.
The instrument that makes or breaks a band is the guitar. Even if the vocals are horrible, they can be redeemed by the mighty riff. Even if the drums are impeccable, they can be tarnished by soulless strumming. The latter is the case for Despised Icon's music. Even if that drummer was doing blast beats whilst cartwheeling over shark tanks, he could not pull his band's music out of the gutter. The two shitty guitarists and their shitty riffs make this a shitty listening experience.
Am I the only one that doesn't see the charm in polyrhythms? It's all well and good when Meshuggah does it, because they make it interesting. However, all of Despised Icon's polyrhythmic riffs are, in actuality, fillers that other bands use as transitions. Every metal band chugs, but Despised Icon's formula is predominately devoted to chugging. And this is where the problem lies, because chugs are meant to ADD texture to a song, not be the only source of it.
Every song on The Ills Of Modern Man feels like a shoddy cutting-and-pasting of riffs. You have the uninspired palm riff, the riff that's supposed to groove (yet doesn't), the speedy riff, and the breakdown riff. Melody is barely discernible because they mute every riff. Sure, Fainted Blue Ornaments takes an 'unexpected turn' with some moody synths, morose chord plucking, and an oh-so-dramatic tapped lead. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a step in the right direction. However, it was too little effort too late, and only exists to close the album. It can safely be assumed that if the album went on for the rest of time, it would be the same chug-groove-break-chug formula the entire time.
A further accent to the band's poor songwriting are the horrendous vocalists. When they're not yelling, they're breeing. When they're not breeing, they're gang voxin'. While I never quite understood why gang vocals were detestable before, I sure understand it now. I can't tell what's worse between the hoarse bellows and pitiful squeals. But that's alright-- there's room enough at the bottom of the gutter for two.
All in all, this serves to be nothing short of a waste of time. To the extreme metal fans who keep getting told Despised Icon is a prime cut of deathcore: don't believe it. Nothing you love about thrash, death, or black, or grind can be salvaged from this horrible mess. Do yourself a favor and dismiss the hype. It's undeserved.
0 / 10
The newest Despised Icon LP sounds like the band was shooting for a sound similar to that found on their split with Bodies In The Gears Of The Apparatus but getting distracted by something shiny along the way. For some reason, Despised Icon, poised to take over the extreme metal scene after the brilliance of 'The Healing Process', decided to take this... diversion. I don't think it was lack of ambition that led to this album as much as an eager attempt to 'do something new', although what turned out wasn't quite as new they'd hoped.
What I'm saying sounds harsher than it should, as I do very much enjoy 'The Ills Of Modern Man'. Like all Despised Icon releases, it's highly brutal, technical, and and possesses very solid songwriting throughout. Of course, some parts of the equation have changed as predicted. First off: the atmosphere here seems to be a reinterpretation of, as stated before, their material on the split with BITGOTA. The general mood is of a definitely darker note; not to say that 'The Healing Process' or 'Consumed By Your Poison' were particularly cheery either, but the sound on this release is most certainly geared to being more oppressive and claustrophobic than on material before it.
Possibly the most significant change that we see with 'The Ills Of Modern Man' is how metalcore seems to have been cut out entirely and replaced with Hatebreed-style hardcore. I can hear the snorts of derision coming from the metal scene already, but I'd like to say that the DM/HC combination isn't nearly as terrible as you would expect it to be. Yes, the breakdowns are more space-driven, and instances of gang vocals provided by numerous members of the Quebec metal scene appear on songs such as 'A Fractured Hand' and 'Fainted Blue Ornaments', but the general candor of the music isn't quite as tough guy as you'd expect at first glance. However, on a similar note, the feel is less introspective and philosophical as well; it's more self-torturing and spiteful as a whole.
The album feels more like a collection of songs than a conceptual work. This was an issue that I thought had dissipated with 'The Healing Process', where each song flowed cleanly into the next in logical sequence. There's a lot of weird decisions when it comes to the songs on this album: the most obvious is the inclusion of 'Oval Shaped Incisions' from, you guessed it, the BITGOTA split, added seemingly at random. It sticks out pretty clearly from the rest of the album, and I'm still left wondering why they added it near the end. It really feels like a last-minute decision designed to inflate the body of the album, but it's not a terribly distracting thing. More distracting is the production: clean, but with a huge emphasis on drums and vocals, causing the guitars to frequently be washed out during the blasting sections. In addition, the sound is extremely cold and mechanical, not unlike Beneath The Massacre's 'Evidence Of Inequity', but lacking the technical fury of that album and adding more of an emphasis on groove.
And groove this album does. Breakdowns function as songs' centerpieces more than ever before, and are less preoccupied with slam than a more traditional breed of groove. The breakdown in the middle of 'In The Arms Of Perdition' could even be interpreted as rockish, at least until the end starts to go into dun dun dun, dot dot dot territory. The most hardcore influenced song on the album is clearly closer 'Fainted Blue Ornaments', which is surprisingly the best song on the album by far. That track's epic lead guitar meshing with street-level hardcore riot shouts and melodramatic band performance is stunningly well employed. Speaking of performances: top notch all around. Riffing is meaty and punishing, dual vocals are still effective, but by far the centerpiece of this album is the drum performance. Inhumanly fast at times (the title track's closing blast is incomprehensibly blazing) and uniformly machinelike and perfect, it accentuates the inhuman, mechanical atmosphere of the album as a whole.
While I'd say 'The Ills Of Modern Man' is probably the weakest Despised Icon release so far, it earns such a place only by an extremely narrow margin. Any fans of the band will still want to pick it up immediately, and those turned off by the earlier works may want to give the band a new chance. Despised Icon is the best band in modern deathcore for a reason. Highly recommended.
(Originally written for http://www.grindingtheapparatus.net)
First I will say what is obvious, that this album is not typical Despised Icon. "The Ills Of Modern Man" manages somehow to make a pure deathmetal sound with some of the most brutal breakdowns known to man in the most unexpected places. The thing with these breakdowns is that they're done properly, and made so that they're enjoyable to most death metal fans. The thing with these pig squeals is that they're made so that they get you angry and in the mood to punch someone in the face or start a fight. People may think of pig squeals as gay, but Despised Icon has the best ones, and used in moderation (like they are), they are essential to this style of music.
The first time I heard "In The Arms Of Perdition" I was sort of scared because there was minimal vocals from Alex (hardcore "scream"), and the riffs were all death metal with nice blasts from the drummer. Steve killed it on the vocals all the way to the solo! YES A SOLO, IN A DESPISED ICON SONG. After that solo comes what most people hate about DI, but what I love. A fusion of death metal riffing and hardcore screaming inevitably leading up to pig squeals and the hugest breakdown ever. This song is only the beginning of an amazing album.
I suppose that the song "In The Arms Of Perdition" cannot be used as an example of the rest of the album because each song is different sounding, with different amounts of death metal and hardcore meshed together to make a unique sounding album. For example "Fainted Blue Ornaments" opens up with a few slams, goes to some crazy death metal stuff, ends with a chantback and a RETARDED breakdown. This album is crazy technical, and amazingly made. Even a nice soft part is incorprated, with a melodic-ish riff. This song would have to be the best on the album.
The album is filled with amazing surprises, from solos to other crazy elements that you wouldn't expect from Despised Icon. They even re-did the song "Oval Shaped Incisions", found on their split with Bodies In The Gear Of The Apparatus. A thorougly enjoyable album. The 5% that I would take from the album's perfect score is the length, I think that I would've enjoyed this more if it were even longer. I truly love this album.