Van Halen’s Debut Album Turns 40 Years Old

Born from the Hollywood glam scene in the 1970s, the best classic rock musicianship in history, and a nod to punk rock independence, Van Halen burst on the scene and changed the face of music overnight. It may have been a foregone conclusion to those that saw them at the time that they would “make it”. However, once the album became a runaway hit, it was the template for the band’s entire career, and the impetus for the next few generations of rock and metal bands as well. Continue reading

Despised Icon – Beast

Despised Icon – Beast album cover ghostcultmag

So it’s 2016 and we have a new album, Beast (Nuclear Blast), from Despised Icon. Yeah, the same Despised Icon that called it a career in 2010 as its members chose to focus on simple family life. The Despised Icon whose music had all the subtlety of a reciprocating saw.

I guess the question is why now? Well, what better place than here, what better time than now? Considering that their last album, 2009s concussive Day of Mourning (Century Media), landed them at number 162 on the Billboard Top 200, they may have called it curtains too soon. Proof? Quite a few “deathcore” acts shamelessly ape Despised Icon and fellow Montrealers Beneath the Massacre’s sonic brew in the years that followed and regularly find themselves debuting in the Top 40.

The better question is, has the passage of time dulled Despised Icon’s edge? Hell no. The Quebec septet are still stitching together bruising hardcore and rapid death riffs and tempos. So much so that about two minutes into Beast there is a clear/brazen callback to 2007s The Ills of Modern Man. The patented Steve Marois lock-stepped pig squeals that are oft-imitated but never matched? Just crank ‘Bad Vibes’ and ‘Time Bomb’ until your heart stops. What about breakdowns? This album is basically a buy one get one free kind of deal with those. ‘Grind Forever’ has a breakdown wider than Texas.

This is a Despised Icon album, through and through. It’s almost like it warrants two ratings. Dyed in the wool Despised fans will love this shit. Those unfamiliar with this noisy and relentless affair? Well, that could be a hard sell. However there are the briefest glimpses of experimentation. ‘Drapeau Noir’ has a name like a cheap boxed wine, but is death metal of the highest excellence, not unlike what you’ll find on a Black Dahlia Murder album. Complete with a fret-burning solo and all the fixings. And I’m usually not a fan of these things, but the two interludes, particularly ‘Doomed’ are used tastefully.

So you could say that the uncrowned kings of deathcore are finally ready to assume the throne.



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