Despised Icon – Purgatory (Nuclear Blast)

Wednesday, 13th November 2019
Rating: 8.5/10

With 2016’s Beast quickly reestablishing the Canadian pioneers of deathcore as a vital force to be reckoned and a massive comeback in its own right, the band took their time in formulating the follow-up release. The result is that of Purgatory, an album that is just as snarling and brutal as anything the band has done to date. An album that should no doubt keep the band viewed as fine mixologists when it comes to the realms of blurring hardcore and death metal.

The first thing that pops up when listening to Purgatory is how damn heavy it is. Granted, all Despised Icon releases share this as a common thread, but the exhilarating speed runs that the band employs on tracks like the appropriately titled “Light Speed” and “Unbreakable” call to mind fellow Canadians Cryptopsy during their Whisper Supremacy period in their maddening blitzkrieg. It’s furious, with a technical driven death metal core that will impress with it’s rhythms and aggression. But the band is about more than pure speed, and groovier cuts such as “Snakes in the Grass” succeed in providing some battering grooves and an uptick in the hardcore-directness, providing a different style of brutality that stays in line with the band’s deathcore mantra. The band also provides something a little bit extra on “Moving On,” with an increase in synths at the track’s opening, giving it a cinematic feel before some stomping grooves and blistering riffs fill the speakers. Some melodic excursions also find their way into the song, upping the memorability factor. Something that the band has no issues with throughout the album, with catchy grooves and chugs grounding the death metal speed runs and giving the listener some breathing room without sacrificing their vicious approach.

Some real bone-breaking stuff is to be found on Purgatory. Despised Icon is just as vitriolic as ever, with a real knack for blending both raging death metal fury and the blunt aggression of hardcore in a way that separates them from the deathcore pack of today.

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