Review Summary: This is what deathcore SHOULD sound like
Consumed By Your Poison is the debut album from Montreal’s Despised Icon originally released in 2002 and fortunately re-released by current label Century Media in 2006. Despised Icon came to prominence with the release of their major-label debut The Ills of Modern Man and the parallel rise in popularity of the deathcore genre. For those who would immediately pigeonhole this album as “just another deathcore album”, there are many, many reasons not to do so. First of all, consider that this album was written and recorded in 2002 when most metal fans were indulging heavily in Mudvayne, Disturbed, Korn, and the like. Secondly, if you haven’t heard this album yet, be prepared to deal with a lot more variety from Consumed By Your Poison than your standard deathcore output. Finally, not only does the musicianship stand on its own, it almost frustrates the listener because this is what deathcore should have and could have been.
Consumed By Your Poison as a whole is a very impressive album. It is a cohesive piece in its totality and does not relent at any point in terms of technicality of the instrumentation. A deathcore album that doesn’t become boring halfway through or stale after one or two listens is a rarity, most would agree. Consumed By Your Poison is definitely part of the cream that rose to the top of the deathcore bucket. It is not an exaggeration to say that every element of this particular album (vocals and every instrument featured) are top-notch, executed in a unique and attractive way.
To start, the vocals on this album are simply ridiculous. Far from a monotone, persistent growl throughout, the two vocalist of Despised Icon aim to impress on Consumed By Your Poison. After multiple listens I can discern four (yes, four) separate vocal styles: a typical low, impossible-to-understand growl, a high pitch scream, “crickets” or “pig squeals”, and a extremely weird style which is best described as a man yelling and simultaneously having his boysenberries squeezed. If you believe I’m being unnecessarily gross or out of line in my description, listen to “Poissonnariat” and “Dead King”. In sum, the vocals on Consumed By Your Poison are more inventive and varied than 99% of all deathcore albums in existence today. Another unique thing Despised Icon tend to do is to couple breakdowns with syncopated “singing” that makes all breakdowns on this album multi-dimensional and catchy. Lyrically, this album details the band’s frustration with the superficiality and weakness of the human condition. Although the lyrics are mostly indecipherable, you’ll also notice that three of the tracks are sung in Despised Icon’s native French, which adds a bit of interesting novelty to the album itself.
I simply have nothing negative to say about the guitars and bass. I realize that makes for a seemingly one-sided review but the level at which Despised Icon execute their songs is second to none. The technicality is there, of course, but it’s the song structures themselves that command attention. Each song contains a distinct feel. Whether it be from the constantly shifting tempos, the start-stop riffing, or the eerie bass leads (yes, the bass is actally FEATURED in many songs) in “Poissonnariat”, “Absolu”, or “Chef de Voute”, the musicianship on Consumed By Your Poison is a level (or many levels) above most deathcore albums I’ve encountered in the past seven years. As mentioned previously, the technical riffage is all over this recording, from blatantly groovy to spacey, arrhythmic Between the Buried and Me-type runs.
Following the theme of diversity and colorful variety displayed in all other aspects of Consumed By Consumed By Your Poison, the drums are certainly on the same plane as the guitars, bass, and vocals. Drummer Alexandre Pelletier demonstrates a perfect amount of restraint on this album and it’s all the better for it. Constant blast beats and ultra-fast kit work is a hallmark of current deathcore but I personally believe it is one of the genre’s undeniable weak points. Although technically impressive, extreme metal drumming can become very boring and can wear down a listener and can also subtract from any variety within an album. This is markedly not the case with Consumed By Your Poison. A detailed description of the minutia that make the drumming great on this album is unnecessary, simply listen to it and you will easily understand.
Overall, Consumed By Your Poison is an album that could have been one of those genre-defining moments. And it should have. I believe the combination of this album coming out on a tiny, unknown label during a time when deathcore wasn’t even a part of the extreme metal conversation have led to its relative obscurity. If you are even a casual fan of deathcore or are a fence-straddling doubter of the genre, pick up Consumed By Your Poison and consider it within the context of today’s thriving, copycat deathcore scene. Despised Icon’s Consumed By Your Poison is certainly a bright spot on the death metal picture of the past ten years.