If avant-garde jazz artists decided to become headbangers, the most logical place for them would be math metal. The 2000s have given us a long list of technical metal bands that thrive on angularity and difficult time signatures, which of course, are also easy to find in avant-garde jazz. But some technical metal bands are more accessible than others, and Ills of Modern Man has more of a sense of groove than a lot of other technical metal discs. Despised Icon is a band that combines technical death metal with technical metalcore. Some of the vocals favor death metal's stereotypical "Cookie Monster" growl, and some favor the type of tortured screaming that metalcore and hardcore are known for; it would be inaccurate to describe Ills of Modern Man as either pure death metal or pure metalcore because it is, in fact, a combination of the two -- and whether one is hearing the "Cookie Monster" vocals or the screaming vocals, Ills of Modern Man aims for both complexity and vicious, head-crushing bombast. But again, this Montreal-based outfit is one of the more groove-friendly technical metal bands; they have achieved a balance of accessibility and angularity and aren't hard to get into if one has a taste for extreme metal. Since their formation in 2002, Despised Icon have had their share of lineup changes; on this 2007 release, the six-man lineup consists of Alex Erian and Steve Marois on lead vocals, Eric Jarrin and Yannick St. Amand on guitar, Sebastien Piché on bass and Alex Pelletier on drums. And that 2007 lineup works out fairly well on this decent, if mildly inconsistent, example of technical death metal and technical metalcore coming together.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson