Originally written by Erik Thomas.
I really thought that Canada’s Despised Icon could never top 2005’s The Healing Process, (one of my favorite albums of that year) but with a little line-up tweak plying the same technical death metal meets hardcore ferocity (deathcore I guess), The Ills of Modern Man surpasses its predecessor in every way.
Everything about the release is just ridiculously tight: the Yannick St-Amand production, which is better than ever; the furious vortex of grinding; squealing complexity; the thunderous grooves (I hesitate to use the word breakdowns); the dual vocals. Everything is just maxed out. On top of that, Despised Icon have, unlike similarly veined Beneath The Massacre, learned to flesh out their songs and throw in a little control amid the chaos. No, this isn’t a more commercial release, as its just as vitriolic as the last record, it’s just there’s a tangible sense of improved, more memorable song writing.
While tracks like seething opener (and first single/video) “In the Arms of Perdition”, “The Ills of Modern Man”, “Nameless” and the reworked “Oval Shaped Incisions” (from their debut split with Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus) quite simply rip your face from your skull, the rest of the tracks like “Furtive Monologue”, “Quarantine”, and “Sheltered Reminiscence” and “Tears of the Blameless” while still full of slicing, ripping grinding complexity, have more focus on off kilter, methodical, angular Meshuggah-isms and truly devastating grooves (especially the crushingly stuttering persona favorite “A Fractured Hand”). The real surprise of the album though, has to be closer “Fainted Blue Ornaments”, a track with just a sick groove and gang chants that will be sure to divide fans with its epic, orchestral, dare I say melodic climax. Personally, I think it’s a brilliant stroke and one that ends an utterly searing album with a brilliant dash of introspection.
As with seemingly anything to come of Canada in this vein, the musicianship is simply unparalleled, but again, whereas Beneath the Massacre sort of blew their wad on musicianship and forgot song writing with Mechanics of Dysfunction, Despised Icon realize that musicianship is only as good as the songs being delivered.
As with anything with the word ‘core’ remotely attached (i.e.The Faceless, The Red Chord, Winds of Plague, Job For a Cowboy, Beneath The Massacre, Diskreet, etc) there will be some that simply discount Despised Icon as death metal pretenders and merely hardcore kids playing grindcore, but simply put, this stuff is just as complex and brutal as anything on Unique Leader, just without the long locks and folded arms. Brutality is brutality no matter who is playing it, and these skilled Canadians are as brutal and brilliant as it gets.