Despised Icon – Beast (Nuclear Blast)

Wednesday, 6th July 2016
Rating: 8.5/10

With the deathcore train moving along at full-tilt, it’s harder and harder to get behind some of the near-blatant attempts at cashing in on the genre. It was bound to happen – just look at metalcore, nu metal, or even old school Swedish death metal for that matter. Finding genuinely exciting bands in increasingly crowded waters is always a challenge. Thankfully deathcore pioneers Despised Icon have returned to show all the kids how things are done.

The band’s first effort since 2009’s Day of Mourning, Beast finds the band’s creative batteries fully recharged and ready to dole out punishment. Despised Icon’s voice in the genre has always been unique due to the use of hardcore (gang vocals, breakdowns) and technically-proficient death metal (a nice mix of grooves and blasting as well) – taking the influences directly, as opposed to being influenced by other ‘deathcore’ acts and watering down the product. Thus their brand has a more explosive flavor to it, with songs like “Inner Demons” and “Grind Forever” able to truly capture the essence of both hardcore and death metal brutality, and none of its trappings. The genre-balancing is one of the band’s strongest features, as heard in highlight “Drapeau Noir,” able to move from adrenaline-pumping blasts and ferocious roars to more melodic riffing and a killer solo, before ending the song on a more hardcore-influenced stomp, complete with gang vocals.

Keeping things on the more abrasive side, Beast clocks in at just under 30-minuntes, with nary a wasted moment. The fat-trimming helps keep the songs moving, with a scathing edge that never loses its bite. Beast falls in line nicely with the rest of DI’s discography and feels as if the band never lost a step in 7 years. Welcome back.

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