The 10 Albums That Shaped Despised Icon
Despised Icon frontman Alex Erian opens up his record collection and reveals his influences.
“I feel like deathcore isn’t our reality. We started out touring in the death metal scene and there was no Suicide Silence or Job For A Cowboy or Carnifex. We grew up listening to and playing with Deicide, Morbid Angel, Immolation and Suffocation, those kind of bands. That was our reality. So I’m really excited to talk about the albums that shaped our sound.”
Cryptopsy – None So Vile
“Our band formed in Montreal, Canada and we were very influenced by a band from here called Cryptopsy. I started out as a death metal drummer, and back then Flo [Mounier] from Cryptopsy was without exception the fastest, the most technical, he was just the best. And that was extremely influential for me as a drummer. I wanted to be as fast as possible but I was also a death metal addict. I started out by listening to Pantera and Sepultura, and I love Vulgar Display Of Power and Chaos AD and Arise, but they weren’t the albums that influenced me to start this band. That was albums like None So Vile. That was when I wanted to go faster, go harder and be more extreme. I’d put None So Vile in my top three death metal albums of all time. We’re talking about the classic line-up with Lord Worm on vocals doing really weird guttural stuff that went beyond the classic stuff you’d hear from standard death metal albums. It brought something a little different to the table. And Jon Levasseur on guitar was really ahead of his time.”
Suffocation – Pierced From Within
“The early Despised Icon stuff had a lot of weird riffs and odd song structures, very progressive, and I really gotta credit Suffocation for that. That is a really timeless piece of death metal right there. And what’s fun about that record is that it’s New York death metal, and we are very influenced by New York, whether that’s New York death metal or New York hardcore or New York hip-hop. And Suffocation are just pillars of that type of brutal death metal. An extremely dark record. I remember I owned it and, at first, it was a bit too heavy for me. The one time I did acid as a 17-year-old kid I was walking the streets and I remember the walls turning into the artwork from that album, just these grim as fuck tentacles, and I was like ‘Holy shit man!’ It was a scary thing… but that’s a whole other story!”
Dying Fetus – Killing On Adrenaline
“I was listening to a lot of brutal death metal, but this showed me that you can still do it right and be extreme while being super catchy. On that particular record that was back when Jason Netherton was still in the band. Back then all the death metal vocalists were very low but he has this more mid-range voice, which is similar to my own, so that was definitely an influence on Despised Icon. Not just doing the typical lows and highs, but adding mid-range vocals to that. Jason then went on to do Misery Index, and, while his lyrics weren’t as politically engaged as he is in that band, he had a big impact on me musically. And I also gotta give props to [drummer] Kevin Talley who had his signature style. This is one of the records that I’ve listened to the most in my life, and I also gotta give Dying Fetus props for still remaining relevant after all these years. Still putting out quality records, still on top of their game.”
Devourment – 1.3.8.
“If you go back to 2007-09, that’s when deathcore was really the current trend and band wagon. Pig squeals became super popular back then! I feel like not a lot of people know where that slammy, mosh heavy pig squeals came from. We started doing them around 2002 and were pretty ahead of our time, but we probably never would have gone into that direction if it weren’t for bands like Gorge – they kind of went under the radar a bit – and, most importantly Devourment. They’re a band that really stuck for us, that really influenced us to develop that type of death metal that’s fast and extreme but also have a lot of chugginess and groove to it. The opening track Babykiller, oh my God! You could play that show at a hardcore show or a death metal show and it would be the most violent pit ever.”
Internal Bleeding – Driven To Conquer
“As I said, I’m very influenced by New York, Long Island and New England, and so I have to pick Internal Bleeding. They used to play locally to us a lot. Just like Dying Fetus, it’s really brutal, really technical, also lots of room for groove, for mosh. That ability to jump from a blastbeat to a headbanging riff is what stands out here. They're just a band that make you want to head-bang for days.”
Madball – Set It Off
“The first hardcore record I ever bought. What drew me to that album was that back then Freddy [Cricien]'s vocals were a lot lower. So that could bridge the gap for death metal fans. The songs are short and sweet, effective and efficient. I still see that band now, they still play songs from that album and they are still as relevant now as they were then. That’s a record that I will never get tired of, because it opened up a whole new world for me. Coming from the death metal scene, a lot of my friends didn’t want to go to hardcore shows. So I was that loser alone at hardcore shows! But it got me into a whole other world.”
Biohazard – State Of The World Address
“Another classic. Back in the old days we had this show on a TV channel called Music Plus, which would be the equivalent of MTV. The show was called Solid Rock, and they would play a lot of metal, but once in a while there would be a track like Tales From The Hard Side by Biohazard. They were a band that showed me that you could have two separate vocalists with two separate voices, like we do in Despised Icon. I’m also a big fan of hip-hop, they have a collaboration track on there with Cypress Hill [How It Is], which is a sick track, and they did tracks with Onyx as well on the Judgement Night soundtrack. And I just thought that was sick! That hip-hop influence is so big for me. You might not be able to tell from Despised Icon but it’s the flow that is definite influenced by my hip-hop roots. And Biohazard showed me you can do that and still be hard as fuck.”
Hatebreed – Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire
“Another classic. The album that put Hatebreed on the map. I gotta give Hatebreed the props for appealing to metal fans and hardcore fans. There are so many sub-genres these days, and making hardcore accessible to so many different people, I think that’s sick. They’re still out there, doing it, swinging. The first Hatebreed record I heard was Satisfaction… and it just comes roaring out. It’s short and it does it everything you need from hard music. It’s a bit more chuggy and a bit more metal than a lot of hardcore records – it might be one of the first metalcore albums. Although I don’t wanna get into the specifics to that. And they maintained integrity throughout it all, they are as real as they come.”
Terror – One With The Underdogs
“The first time I heard of Terror, I had a limited pressing. [Frontman] Scott Vogel is the ambassador of hardcore. I had the pleasure of touring with them, and he’s as passionate, if not more, about hardcore than he ever was. Reps for hardcore 24/7. I don’t think he even listens to any other type of music. He just wants to listen to hardcore, go to shows and really live this life. And it’s an all-star line-up on that record. Carl [Schwartz] from First Blood played bass on it, Frankie 3 Gun from Hatebreed played guitar. I feel like Terror paved the way for a lot of other hardcore bands. Making it popular for the younger concert-goers, and keeping that music alive. They’re a really inspiring band to me.”
Bane – Holding This Moment
“It’s a collection of their first two EPs. I’m a really big hardcore and metal fan, but growing up I was a big punk fan, of bands like NOFX, Pennywise and Rancid, and I feel like Bane bridge the gap between punk and hardcore. And on Holding This Moment almost every song is full of gang vocals, it’s like a set of gang vocal anthems. All these people singing along and being super passionate. Despised Icon have a lot of that gang vocal parts in our songs. Weirdly, that’s something that a lot of our peers haven’t done. But a band like Bane has really influenced me when it comes to writing the vocal parts in Despised Icon.”
Despised Icon's new album Beast is out July 22, via Nuclear Blast.