Canadian deathcore pioneers DESPISED ICON are back to reveal their 6th full length album: »Purgatory.« Not a theological band by any means, »Purgatory« is meant to represent the mortal experience of being trapped in a suffering state and left to brood; stuck in notions of great loss and permanent scars that will ultimately define you. It is from these incidents that humans grow. “It’s about taking the right, and necessary steps to better yourself and fix the things that are going wrong,” explains vocalist Alex Erian. “Transitioning from a state of constant negativity into something more constructive or healthy. It’s not about achieving perfection, but finding a middle ground between those good and bad impulses.” Guitarist Eric Jarrin explains: “The definition of ‘purgatory’ is a place of challenges where you go through difficulties and try to overcome them... and on a band level, it’s where we were when we wrote these songs.” Not only do the themes of »Purgatory« reflect the personal and internal struggles of the band, but the struggles of modern day society as a whole, and the current lack of compassion amongst mankind. “Even if the odds seem against us now more than ever, I’m still on the side of hope,” Erian reflects.
For the album artwork, the band desired to echo classic death metal covers of the past, and tapped on the shoulder of Eliran Kantor. He created a painting displaying an angel being weighed down by his earthly trials and self-doubt. These trials are depicted as golden wings tearing his flesh from his bones. The album’s mandatory French song 'Vies D’Anges' (Lives Of Angels) was a direct influence on these ideas. “We felt [Kantor’s] style of artwork matched the tone and mood of the album,” says Erian. “It seems like in the deathcore artwork scene there are a lot of aliens, space, planets, post apocalypse, and monsters etc. We wanted to kind of go the opposite way and do a real piece of art like a renaissance painting,” explains Jarrin.
As far as DESPISED ICON goes, fans can expect a bit more diversity and experimentation with »Purgatory« both musically and production wise. “This one was really an outlet for our creativity and at the same time there’s so much influence from what’s going on around us and what’s going on in the world. It translated into the music and that’s why it’s more extreme - the world is more extreme so the music is as well. There are more musical elements too, more guitar solos, more melody, there’s even a bass solo,” explains Jarrin.
Songs like the second single 'Snake In The Grass' discuss the experience of holding someone in very high esteem in your mind, to then realize that they are not only imperfect, but often deceitful. “Sometimes you feel things are a little off, but you give someone the benefit of the doubt, and then you find out in the end that you were right all along. I’ve reached a point in my life where I chose to use my instincts now more than ever,” states Erian. “It’s about being deceived. Feeling let down, abandoned, disrespected. It happens in all types of relationships and people can relate to this in many aspects of their life,” explains Jarrin. “Musically, [this song is] a perfect blend of all of the components on this record. It’s got a lot of fu*kin’ groove I’ll tell you that. We don’t encourage violence at shows but I feel like there will be a couple bloody noses in the pit when we play that song.”
The track 'Slow Burning' is a heavy reflection on violence amongst society. “We keep hearing about all these shootings and the ongoing nuclear arms race. We’re fighting fire with fire and hate with more hate. Maybe it’s time to start a different dialogue,” expresses Erian. Living in these frightening times, the band was trying to reflect on those ideas and hope that they will generate certain questions amongst those who are listening. “It is also part of the music itself, instrumentally this is probably one of the darkest and heaviest albums we will put out,” states Jarrin.
The writing process was a bit different for »Purgatory« than with albums of the past. “It was much less forced. Usually we try to tackle one song at a time, this time we spent a lot of time together, wrote a bunch of ideas and afterwards pieced the puzzle together. We took our time. It’s all for the entity, the band itself, whatever the song demands,” explains Erian. As far as production, the band handles everything internally with the help of their former guitar player/current front of house engineer, Yannick St-Amand. With a true understanding of the band, Yannick is viewed as their 7th member and once again took responsibility for the entire recording process. The band then had everything mixed and mastered by Christian Donaldson (CRYPTOPSY guitarist). “We knew [Christian] had what it takes to understand our vision but at the same time bring it to another level and give it something refreshing, and he did just that. I must also mention that Alex spent a lot of time producing the vocals. There are a lot of layers, more so than on any other record,” explains Jarrin.
Perhaps their most dynamic venture to date, DESPISED ICON have a fresh and energy filled arrangement just waiting to see the light of day in the form of »Purgatory.« For many years, they have laid the foundation of deathcore and spearheaded different sounds and movements within the genre. Their latest offering will not leave those so impressed by their recent return in any way disappointed.
1 - Dernier Souffle
2 - Purgatory
3 - Light Speed
4 - Slow Burning
5 - Snake In The Grass
6 - Vies D'Anges
7 - Moving On
8 - Unbreakable
9 - Apex Predator
10 - Legacy
11 - Dead Weight