Published Nov 12, 2019After a highly successful return in 2016 with fifth studio album Beast, Despised Icon have proven they are here to stay through tight live shows and an incredible record that came after years of inactivity. They may not be a full-time act anymore, but the band are sending a clear message, through their incredibly well-written new album, Purgatory, that the bands leading the deathcore scene should step their game up.
It's wild to think a band could come out with their strongest record years after they had their moment, but Despised Icon have done it. Title track "Purgatory" fits neatly into their sound, while having one of their most punishing breakdowns ever. From there, they really drive the point home that deathcore was born for blast beats, as "Light Speed" and "Slow Burning" pick up the pace to excruciating speeds. In fact, most of the album focuses on grindcore-styled blasts, allowing the breakdowns and groove sections to pop off better than before.
The album isn't entirely speed-driven though, as "Snake in the Grass" brings some beatdown riffs that fit well within the origins of deathcore. "Apex Predator" kicks off with a nasty groove and builds into blasts, but focuses on making its way to a gnarly beatdown in the track's latter half.
The vocals on Purgatory are undeniably fantastic. Despised Icon have always had the advantage of dual vocalists filling in every style of guttural vocals you could imagine. Whether it's Alex Erian's hardcore-styled shout or Steve Marois laying down disgusting pig squeals, their dynamic gives them the ability to flex every death metal vocal approach, unlike so many others, who excel in some regards and must underplay certain styles.
The debate about the best Despised Icon album has been heated between old and new fans for many years, and Purgatory makes a case for both groups. The record is the most varied of their catalogue, pushing the old school deathcore style to its absolute limit, and drilling down on the fact that there really is no band that sounds exactly like Despised Icon. (Nuclear Blast)