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Despised Icon – Beast album review

Returning deathcore heroes Despised Icon narrow the lead on new album 'Beast'

Their first album in seven years will be welcomed by the faithful, but Beast finds Despised Icon in a vulnerable position.

Though it was only a short time between their split 2010 and reunion 2014, the genre they were once darlings of has moved on at a steady pace, with their peers Whitechapel and Suicide Silence in particular breaking free of the conventional shackles of frenetic riffs and meaty breakdowns.

Two instrumental interludes mean there are only eight songs proper for the band to present their case, with One Last Martini and the title track the most obvious examples of the Canadians playing it safe with a dated formula. However, elsewhere the Quebec bruisers show enough signs of evolving their sound enough to catch up with the competition. There’s still a truckload of belligerent hardcore spirit, but Beast’s real hallmarks are its blend of old-school death metal’s sinister underbelly and the adventurous, wild technicality of the current crop. The dual vocals of Alex Erian’s hardcore bark and Steve Marois’s frenzied screams and indecipherable grunts lead the way into malevolent The Aftermath, while Grind Forever proudly wears its influences on its sleeve with a cacophony of drums and blistering dual guitars.