Before a genre debate is sparked, the band is often pinned down as being deathcore. I feel that's a rather limiting malapropism; the band is primarily rooted in Death Metal, with a distinct grind and (on a lesser note) hardcore influence being present, and therefore Death Metal is how they are being classified, regardless of the scene in which they're often related to.
Is it just me, or is basically ever new band coming out of the metal scene doing the exact same thing? After a while, mixing Hardcore, Death Metal and Grind all starts to sound the same. That is, however, not to say that some bands don't do it better than others. While lacking a definitive grind element, Between the Buried and Me have taken metalcore to a new level of creativity with their progressive penchants. Bands such as Glass Casket and the Red Chord are doing their share of work at melding grind and death metal with a finite touch of –core. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, another force to be reckoned with comes out of the technically inclined metal breeding grounds of Montreal. Despised Icon has appeared out of the woodworks with no sign of letting up with their second full length. With The Healing Process, they've signed their name right up there with the best of ‘em.
Imagine sitting on your front lawn, reading, drinking, whatever, only to suddenly and inexplicably be hit by a freight train. That, in a nutshell, is Despised Icon's sound. The band is huge, due in part to their usage of dual vocalists. There seems to be sort of a stigma surrounding the dual vocalist approach, thanks in part (I suppose) to the post hardcore/screamo scene, but make no qualms about it; there is no sing/scream alternation on this album. Each vocalist, while different, upholds an overwhelming amount of brutality in their voices. The vocals are all over the map, but they never become overly varied to a point where it becomes distracting. One vocalist handles the more hardcore styled screams and shouts, while the other handles the guttural growls and occasional pig shriek. Thankfully, the piggish squeals, while not as limited as I'd like, are sparse enough to reciprocate with the other styles, adding to the brutality as opposed to having it coming off as forced and unnecessary.
The sheer heavy and pitiless sound of the band is not limited to the vocals. The drums are fast, precise and crushing, finding their way through gravity blasted grind parts to slower, neck-snapping breakdowns. The guitarists, while not overly technical, do a great job at accentuating the chaos. From buzzsaw guitars to half-time breakdowns, the guitars are about as spastic and precise as you'd expect from such a release. The bass, while virtually inaudible for the majority of the album, clearly does a great job in adding to the low end of the album. Since The Healing Process is such a crushing album, the bass is integral, and while the bassist rarely, if ever, strays from following the drums and guitars, it plays a vital role in keeping the album so crushing. While the album is not without technically precise instrumentalism, that is clearly not the focus. It is, however, very indicative of just how talented the band is, as they effortlessly shift tempo and time, keeping it complicated without making it unlistenable. With ‘The Healing Process', Despised Icon has chosen rather to pummel the listener repeatedly, which is a main attraction to the band and album. Sadly, the constant brutality is also the albums bane. Clocking in at a miniscule 32 minutes, there's little to no variation on the album. While the songs fluctuate and change at the drop of a needle, the vocals are varied and the guitars and drums change styles often, when placed several times throughout a song, it all begins to sound the same. Because the band plays in spastic chunks, cycling through blast beats, breakdowns and the like, the songs seem to more or less run together. While reviewing this, I had listened to it nearly two times without even realising, and I suppose that can be both a positive and negative. My only other real complaint is aimed at the guitarists. Pinch harmonics can be pretty cool, no doubt, just not when they're relied upon during every single breakdown.
To put it simply, this is more or less a good album. While it does have its fault, such as a short playtime and a lack of variation between songs, it does stand its ground at being a major player in the budding "Death-Core' scene. For people who want to hear the more brutal side of things, I highly recommend this album. For people looking to have their minds blown, well, you might want to look elsewhere.
Alexandre Erian - Vocals
Steve Marois - Vocals
Yannick St-Amand - Guitar
Éric Jarrin - Guitar
Sebastien Piché - Bass
Alex Pelletier - Drums