Despised Icon are often ascribed the "deathcore" tag by people who, well, are driven by some strange desire to erroneously label metal bands. But Alexandre Erian — who, along with Steve Marois, comprises the Montreal metallers' two-pronged vocal affront — doesn't really give a rat's ass what anyone thinks the band sounds like.
"We've been doing what we do for five years now, and all of a sudden, that word 'deathcore' pops up, and people are calling us deathcore, calling other bands deathcore, and, I mean, I guess it's all right — it's just music," explained Erian, the former drummer for Canadian death-metal outfit Neuraxis. "But we don't want to be associated with this trend. We've been doing this a long time, and we don't feel like we're hopping on any bandwagon at all. And we're probably going to keep playing what we play, even if the trend dies down.
"I don't understand why people take labels so seriously," he continued. "I guess you could call us 'deathcore,' or 'death metal,' or 'death metalcore,' or 'death metal with metalcore influences,' or 'metalcore with death-metal influences.' I like to let the music speak for itself."
Despised Icon's third LP, The Ills of Modern Man, which was released late last month and sold more than 2,000 copies its first week on store shelves (the label shipped a mere 8,000 copies), is unquestionably some of the band's heaviest material to date. Erian said that was no accident, but it definitely evolved naturally, over several months of touring.
"You don't want to put out the same album twice, and this album came out exactly two years after our previous effort, [2005's The Healing Process,] and so we've toured quite a lot since then," he said. "We've improved as musicians, and we've toured the death-metal circuit [with the likes of Behemoth, Morbid Angel, Suffocation and Cryptopsy,] so we've added a few new influences here and there, to spice things up and make things a bit different. But overall, it's the same band — same sound. I think this record does come across as being a bit more heavy than the previous one, but it wasn't intentional. It just came out that way. So, at least now kids can say we're not selling out or anything because this album is actually more brutal."
And while some of Despised Icon's contemporaries have tempered their sounds, Erian scoffed at the suggestion his band might follow suit.
"I can't sing clean, and neither can Steve — and we don't feel like it either," he said. "We're not going to have any clean vocal parts on any of our albums anytime soon. There are a lot of generic bands out there that pretty much play the same breakdown, and I can't say we're 100 percent original either. Only a handful of bands can say that — Dillinger [Escape Plan], Meshuggah, Suffocation back in the '90s. But I do think we have something more to offer than a lot of the bands out there. I don't know, maybe it's because we're Canadian."
Although The Ills of Modern Man has been out a little less than a month, and — even though they're on tour through July 1 with the Red Chord, Through the Eyes of the Dead, All Shall Perish and See You Next Tuesday — Despised Icon are already thinking about their fourth LP, as well as a future DVD release.
"We've got loads of video footage — stuff we shot while we were recording the new CD, along with lots of shows we've filmed here and there," he said. "We'd like to possibly have one of our shows professionally filmed, but that's really far ahead.
"With this record, we wrote maybe half of it in between tours we were doing, and the other half after that Hatebreed tour we were on this past fall," he continued. "We'll probably stick to the same formula going forward. I know we all have ideas already, and we've been working on a few things here and there. We'll probably get to it after our next tour," which will also feature Job for a Cowboy and A Life Once Lost.
Erian wasn't sure when that trek would kick off or where, but hopefully the band keeps an eye on the road when it does. During Despised Icon's successful fall run with Hatebreed, the band had an unfortunate mishap with a deer. "The entire side of our trailer was covered with blood and guts, and we had to clean it off with cans of Pepsi," Erian recalled.
The rest of the week's metal news:
Ex-Nine Inch Nails drummer Danny Lohner has remixed Daath's "Dead on the Dance Floor" for release July 10 as part of a yet-untitled digital EP. The track integrates the band's feral riffs with Lohner's electronic beats and samples. "At some point in our lives, each member of Daath has spent their time with Nine Inch Nails music," guitarist Eyal Levi said in a press release. "They are a huge part of our musical upbringing and collaborating with one of their main minds is an honor that we are very excited about." ... Apocalyptica have gotta be pissed. Two classically trained female harp players, who go by the name Harptallica, have released their self-produced debut of Metallica covers, Harptallica - A Tribute, on iTunes. The musicians, Ashley Toman and Patricia Kline, both have Masters of Music degrees from Rochester, New York's Eastman School of Music. A tour is forthcoming. ...
Through the Eyes of the Dead will release their new album, Malice, August 21. The follow-up to 2005's Bloodlust will mark the debut of singer Nate Johnson (ex-Premonitions of War, Deadwater Drowning), who replaced Anthony Gunnels in March after Gunnels lost interest in the band. The disc was produced by Erik Rutan (Goatwhore, Cannibal Corpse) and includes "Failure in the Flesh," which is currently streaming on the band's MySpace page. ... Seattle band Himsa have finished recording their yet-untitled fourth album, which they've been hammering away at in the studio with producer Steve Carter (Cradle of Filth, Aiden) since mid-April. Vocals were later produced by Devin Townsend (Lamb of God, Darkest Hour), and Tue Madsen (Kataklysm, Mnemic) is currently mixing the album. ...
Australia surf-thrash band Alchemist have finished recording their new full-length, Tripsis, which is scheduled for U.S. release in September. In a statement, singer/guitarist Adam Agius called the disc, "The most consistently heavy album since Spiritech, with all the Alchemist trademarks — psychedelic, atmospheric, packed with crushing riffs, intertwined guitar, melodies and groove. Tripsis is also the fastest album delivered by Alchemist, with a few songs taking the surf-thrash sound to new heights." Tracks include "Wrapped in Guilt," "Degenerative Breeding" and "Grasp the Air." ... Grindcore band Leng Tch'e have replaced guitarist Geert Devenster with ex-Aborted axeman Peter Goemaere. Devenster quit the group last month because his "priorities in life" changed and he "wasn't having fun anymore." ...
Bay Area thrash band Dekapitator will release their debut, The Storm Before the Calm, July 24. Two tracks, "Toxic Sanctuary" and "Run With the Pack," can be previewed on the band's MySpace page. ... We'd love to hear the story behind this band's name: Arsonists Get the Girls. They'll release their second disc, The Game of Life, August 14. Produced by Zach Ohren of Castle Ultimate, the disc features 12 dizzying tracks, including "Shoeshine for Neptune." ... The new album by Swedish metal legends Entombed, Serpent Saints - The Ten Amendments, is scheduled to drop July 31. It will be the band's first studio album since 2004's Inferno. Expect a U.S. tour in late fall or early winter 2008.