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Album Review: DESPISED ICON Purgatory

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When you come back to the world for a second act, you're left with two options: stay true to your original goals and shepherd your legacy over the long term, or flare-up only to burn out again and become a stale joke. It's a clear choice between becoming the wise veteran people look up to and the old dude at the bar who never shuts up about "what might have been." Despised Icon, a band made up of down-to-earth dudes who genuinely love the music and scene that built them, are determined to walk the right path. On the band's new dose of deathcore brutality, they blaze through it effortlessly.

Despised Icon's return saw them record the very good Beast, which showed the band ready to get back into the game. But it never quite jumped to the levels of infectious crunch and blast that classics like The Healing Process and Day of Mourning once did. It had the sound of a band putting on some old gear, doing some stretches, taking some vitamins and figuring things out again. What the world of extreme music really needed was the next step in the journey.

The extreme metal world has changed quite a lot since the band's breakup in 2010, and more still since 2016. Things have only gotten more fragmented, segmented and confusing. When they broke up, deathcore and djent where the vogue styles of metal that most people were talking about. Now? Who the hell knows. But what's important is that the best bands and records get elevated, regardless of what obscure province they come from.

So, from the land of deathcore that properly mixes hardcore and death metal (rather than a bunch of lukewarm death metal with breakdowns shoved in for no reason) comes Purgatory. And man, this is such a brutal, devastating album. Sure, Despised Icon has always been a crushing band, but on this album, they are an unhinged monster.

After the surprisingly peaceful intro, the band breaks into the album's rousing title track. But the album really gets going on aptly titled "Light Speed" and the palm-muted slaughter of "Slow Burning." It's a level of sonic punishment that could even give the likes of Cryptopsy and Anaal Nathrakh a run for their money (Yeah, I said it. Don't @ me.)

It's not just that the music is brutal, it's also so damn fun. The spot on "Light Speed" where Steve (I'm pretty sure) goes "HERE WE GO," gives you a moment that sticks as does the pig squealing on "Snakes in the Grass." Man, it takes me back to say that. Other highlights include the rager "Vies D'Anges," the very The Black Dahlia Murder-like "Moving On" and the scream-tastic "Dead Weight."

The only slight complaint of this great album is perhaps the compression on the guitars. I get that Despised Icon's sound is supposed to be very big and bright, but sometimes the level of compression and noise-gating can take too much life out of the guitar sound. Not a slight against the band or the music here, but some knobs could have been podded down here and there.

If you like brutal death metal and slam, but like the idea of adding tasteful breakdowns and squeals into the mix, you cannot go wrong with the best deathcore band of all time. And you can't go wrong with this fantastic addition to their catalog.

Score: 9/10

Favorite songs: "Light Speed," "Snakes in the Grass," "Vies D'Anges," and "Dead Weight"

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