01. In The Arms of Perdition 02. Furtive Monologue 03. Quarantine 04. The Ills of Modern Man 05. A Fractured Hand 06. Sheltered Reminiscence 07. Nameless 08. Tears of The Blameless 09. Oval Shaped Incisions 10. Painted Blue Ornaments2007 Century Media Records
Are Despised Icon deathcore or breecore While the debate rages on via message boards, MySpace Messages, AIM, and BlackBerries, the NWOCDM (new wave of Canadian death metal) five-piece have proudly unleashed their third full-length, The Ills of Modern Man. Despised Icon are cutting edge and breaking new ground in metal, a fact some in the underground attempt to ignore. But like them or not, their ideal fusion of death metal and modern hardcore as was displayed so brilliantly on The Healing Process helped jumpstart a new movement that also features The Red Chord, A Life Once Lost, Psyopus, and even great new band Architect as some of its more innovative spawn. Part of the appeal with this new chaotic style is the inherent challenge in listening, with each album in the loosely-defined genre becoming a new experience in adapting to whichever twisted frame of mind a band was in when writing their latest material. Such is the case with Despised Icon, whose new album will take more listens to benefit from its magnitude than The Healing Process, in much the same way the latter challenged the listener more than the band's abrasive death grind debut, Consumed By Your Poison. The Ills of Modern Man kicks off with "In The Arms of Perdition," also the album's first video, a low-growl blast-fest displaying more rigidity and lack of compromise than the band's earlier work, and the first of many challenges to the listener. Second vocalist Steve Marois newly growls in a hoarse mid-range much of the time reminiscent of Sinister or early Malevolent Creation, adding a third voice to his familiar high-pitched shrieks and low gutturals. When applied in conjunction with Alex Erian's hardcore reminiscent shouts however, Marois' new voice does not stand out as much as when using his more extreme ones often as on The Healing Process, but taken as a whole, the total vocal performance on The Ills of Modern Man results in being more direct and harsh and less spread out, which actually fits the band's new material better. Reinvention, after all, is the name of the game with bands like this, and for forward-thinking young death metal fans, Despised Icon are without question one of the more exciting bands if not only for their talent, but unpredictability. Marois' new approach seems to have been executed not alone but in conjunction with a stylistic shift as well. On The Ills of Modern Man, the band has taken more concrete steps toward writing bona fide death metal and hardcore crossover material than in the past when the constant, seemingly random tempo shifts were the primary attracting feature. Call it maturity or experience, but Despised Icon have definitely smoothed over the peaks and valleys of their earlier material for the sake of attempting a more disciplined sense of structure. While accepting this new development in the young band's career may take some time for those who bedroom moshed to The Healing Process, tracks like "Furtive Monologue" and "Oval Shaped Incisions" serve to reassure the listener that protracted, slam death parts are still very much a part of Despised Icon's policy, regardless of the band's intriguing advancement in songwriting tact. Alex Pelletier's drum performance is jaw-dropping as always, and he never ceases to bring the each song to life with exciting cymbal accents and four-limbed fills while gravity blasting his way through the more murderous components of the new songs. Just another day at the office for this already influential drum master, apparently. Despised Icon's always creative start-stops on a dime are enough to make any Lamb of God fan tap out due to genuine heaviness, although it should be noted the band linger on most parts longer than before. And then, almost expectedly, Despised Icon close out their latest album on a highly progressive note with the daringly melodic "Painted Blue Ornaments," compelling the listener to question what lack of restrictions will exemplify the band's next step. Whatever they will be, the band are sure to continue surmounting them with confidence unmatched, exactly the kind of doggedness needed to be the band of choice for the new generation. Bottom Line: Unlike the still untouchable death metal of old which can be counted on for inciting coordinated headbanging and anti-Christian sentiment, Despised Icon are not a band to follow preset conventions of a style, preferring instead to define and redefine themselves with each album. Quite some growth has been accomplished since The Healing Process for Despised Icon, and on The Ills of Modern Man, a number of elements not present on the earlier material, such as the occasional harmonic solo and more stable song structures, have been integrated for a somewhat altered but ultimately brutal-to-the-hilt intent that still succeeds.