Despised Icon - Purgatory review


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Band: Despised Icon
Album: Purgatory
Release date: November 2019

01. Dernier Souffle
02. Purgatory
03. Light Speed
04. Slow Burning
05. Snake In The Grass
06. Vies D'Anges
07. Moving On
08. Unbreakable
09. Apex Predator
10. Legacy
11. Dead Weight

Desensitized Icon.

Deathcore luminaries Despised Icon have gone somewhat under the radar since the hype of their reunion faded away, with their sixth album Purgatory having less than expected fanfare upon release. While the band do not offer much new in a genre that has became over-saturated, they do at least offer a concise and enjoyable listen within the self-imposed boundaries of their music; heavy on the breakdowns and blast beats, Purgatory sheds any pretension and gets back to deathcore basics.

As deathcore has expanded into a myriad of directions over the years and has mutated into several different sub-genres of its own (Slamcore and blackened symphonic being but two), sometimes a record that gets back to the roots can be just as fresh as a new direction. Tracks like "Moving On" and "Unbreakable" hit that sweet spot between nostalgia and new that ensure the band don't spin their wheels and go nowhere while driving through familiar territory.

Probably one of the greatest assets the band has to enable this feeling of familiarity is that the band have largely maintained the same line-up for much of their career; the only missing piece from the band's classic period would be the departure of Yannick St-Amand. Marois and Erian head up the (near) same line-up that made Day Of Mourning ten years prior. The inclusion of some of the more underrated musicians in the genre enhances the material on Purgatory several notches.

The flipside to this is that it is a tough ask to maintain this balance between nostalgia and freshness for a whole album and unfortunately Purgatory falls headfirst into this pitfall. As enjoyable as tracks like "Snake In The Grass" are, the album does lose its lustre as it goes on and reflects the genre as a whole, played out and predictable after so long. Sure, there are moments dotted around on tracks like "Apex Predator", but by then you find your interest waning save for the odd bright spot.

While the band does stretch its reach to an extent, with the opening moments of "Vies D'Anges" and "Dead Weight" pushing the brutality up a notch or two to add a element of growth to the formula, it does expose the music to looking quaint, given that they only take a few steps in these directions where other bands have made big strides in comparison; it is a catch-22 I don't envy the band for trying to overcome.

Purgatory is well produced, finding that comfortable middle ground between sonic clarity and heaviness that enhances both without compromising the other. Each member of the band is audible and is able to contribute to the track without issue in the mix. As triggered and gated as Pelletier's drums are, I'll be damned if they don't smash your skull in when the double bass drums go full swing.

Despised Icon may sound like they've been left behind, but it seems a deliberate decision and allows them more space to occupy. Purgatory is a decent record and one for fans who can now breathe as the scene empties itself out.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 6
Production: 6


Written on 15.02.2021 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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