Despised Icon

Day Of Mourning

Written by: AP on 15/10/2009 12:40:30

Before even beginning this review, let me put some facts on the table; facts, which are going to trigger an unstoppable storm of flame from this band's elitist, butthurt fans. My comments on the merits of this album, or rather, the lack thereof (to give you a little teaser), are not going to sit well with those people, because as far as they are concerned, Despised Icon can do no wrong. Hate to break it to you purists, but the band's latest album, "Day of Mourning", is about as creative as a cubicle zombie, and about as interesting to listen to as an audio recording of a firefight in Fallujah (the racket from which is not that different from the music on this album). And as much as you'd like to call it technical death metal, or whatever the fuck it is you do to defend your affection for an unoriginal, blatant deathcore disaster like Despised Icon, I'd rather request that you didn't.

No, this is most definitely the very definition of deathcore. "Les Temps Changent" shoots off with some grueling dissonance atop your usual chugging, and then descends almost immediately into an all too predictable breakdown, before accelerating into some of that machinegun riffing and drumming - all this with the subtlety of an enraged rhinoceros charging through a porcelain store. Despised Icon is very fond of rhythmic syncopation and sudden changes in direction, but these are implemented with almost no dynamicity. Transitions between immense tremolo riffs and their less ambitious counterparts, the breakdowns, sound uneasy and misplaced. What’s worse, the band’s binary songwriting methods ensure that the songs are either progressing at the speed of light, or at snail pace, with no room allowed for experimentation. Where there is an opportunity to explore, and possibly attempt something truly unique, rest assured it will not be exploited. This band prefers to remain within familiar confines.

The drumming, however, is a chapter of its own. What Alexandre Pelletier puts on display here defies the laws of nature. One always tends to borrow the term machinegun drumming in these types of reviews, but to call Pelletier a machinegun would be a gross understatement. He is a fucking phalanx. If you don’t know what that is, the phalanx is a type of Gatling gun mounted on battleships and fighter jets to counteract incoming missiles and to facilitate strafing. When this weapon fires, it sounds like a prolonged fart – a deep, neverending growl much more elegant than the mechanical pumping of a measly regular automatic weapon with an embarrassing rate of fire (compared to the phalanx system at least). When transposed onto music, this kind of speed transcends the concept of blastbeats. Seriously, the speed and complexity with which Pelletier pummels those pedals and skins sounds downright unreal. Listen to “MVP” if you feel this new term phalanx drumming sounds a little farfetched.

The great irony of course, is that the song concludes in a breakdown that borders the ridiculous, to the point where it sounds like self-irony. What’s more, every deathcore cliché is exploited so readily and shamelessly that it becomes difficult to take anything on this album seriously. Is this supposed to be some kind of tongue-in-cheek commentary on the deathcore genre, or could it be that Despised Icon actually mean all of it? Common sense suggests the former, but one glance at the promotional pictures reveal a sextet clad in various extreme metal merchandise with very serious expressions on their faces. Despised Icon have an image to preserve after all; they’re in the business of convincing deserters to various other (scene) sub genres that brutality and breakdowns are all the rage now - and brother, business is booming.

Most of the album feels like stepping on dirty syringes and shards of glass, but admittedly there are the odd few moments to latch onto as well. One of these precious moments comes too early with the title track (as from then on it’s a dizzying downward spiral), which sounds more like the recent produce of the band’s esteemed peers in Job For A Cowboy; another with the promising, inhumanly fast first two thirds of “MVP” (which unfortunately then plunges into its polar opposite: possibly the slowest breakdown you will ever hear – see paragraph above). Other redeeming elements include the already discussed, supernatural percussion and the omission of pig squeals which plagued parts of the previous album. Overall though, “Day of Mourning” sounds like an outright mockery of the entire deathcore genre.

Times change, proclaims the band in Frenglish, but nothing has changed in Despised Icon’s world. Their music remains the same, texture-less breakdown mania it has been since their inception. Pit-bent loyalists will undoubtedly lap this up no questions asked, and contest anyone who dares defy their beloved’s latest and greatest achievement. I for one, will not contest the proposition that “Day of Mourning” may well be Despised Icon’s finest output to date, but even that won’t change the fact that it stands weak and powerless next to other bands in the same genre, who have realized the potential in taking roads less traveled and are now enjoying critical acclaim as a result – and that’s in a genre usually hated for its one-dimensionality. What a shame for a band like Despised Icon, who are accredited as one of the founders of deathcore. In that sense, the band could not have picked a more appropriate name for themselves, or for this album for that matter.


Download: Day of Mourning, MVP, Black Lungs

For the fans of: Beneath The Massacre, Job For A Cowboy, Oceano

Listen: Myspace

Release date 21.09.2009

Century Media

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