Review Summary: Beneath the Massacre has one of the fastest drummers I've ever heard, and the guitars are out of this world. It's got plenty of tech, lots of shred and some crushing breakdowns. But that's about all it has...
Congratulations to Beneath the Massacre. Mechanics Of Dysfunction, the band's debut full-length and follow-up to their mostly well received EP solidifies their place in the music world. For those unaware, Beneath the Massacre is a Technical Death Metal group, and for those familiar with the genre, well, you're probably expecting what I'm about to say.
With Mechanics of Dysfunction
, Beneath the Massacre has successfully entered "so what?" territory. This album is fast as hell. The guitars are out of this world complicated. But, and here's the kicker...so what?
I was, at least initially, a fan of this band's debut EP. If you took it for what it was, you'd be hard pressed to find disappointment. Though by no means a flawless effort, its main faults were harkened purely on the basis that it was, simply speaking, an EP. It did what it was supposed to; it showed us they could certainly
play, it showed us they were at least moderately creative, and it hinted at a bigger idea. Throughout the EP idea the Montreal five-piece toyed with dystopian themes, all of which were conveyed with a hyper-precise technical flair.
Okay I lied, the EP was marred by one reoccurring flaw that didn't spawn from length, at least not directly.
So has Beneath the Massacre smartened up? Have they focused themselves a little more?
Now a four-piece, Beneath the Massacre has definitely perfected their sound, and upon listening to the full length I was aware that nobody was as sure of this as the band itself. For those unfamiliar with the group, Beneath the Massacre plays, as mentioned prior, Technical Death Metal, with emphasis on the Technical. They go the more-is-more route, giving all current genre-giants a run for their money. Their sound, while pretty set-in-stone, is actually quite the bitch to describe, so let me take a stab at it.
Imagine drumming so fast it might as well be programmed, but it's not. Imagine a guitarist that's seemingly faster and more precise than Muhammed Suicmez and a vocalist that sounds almost exactly like him. Throw in some breakdowns, breakdowns that are used frequently while still coming off more natural than on their EP. Throw it in a blender. Oh, and add a dab of the whole Meshuggah-like mechanical vibe and you're just about there.
It sounds sumptuous, doesn't it?
Well it is, and because of that people are going to eat it up. To a point, I'm no exception. This is blaringly fast and ridiculously technical music. The only problem is that's all
it is. Clocking in at just less than 30 minutes, the album is 10 tracks that all sound basically the same. Lucky for most, when you pair the inhuman speeds this band plays at with its fairly short play time, even the more repetitive parts will be over fast. But that's not to say they only play at breakneck speeds. While it is most definitely their speciality, the band still likes to use breakdowns to their advantage. The first half of the album is where you'll find the most effective and prominent use of breakdowns, breakdowns that display a heavy Meshuggah
influence in the sense that they're usually going to be in some seemingly awkward time signature. But much like their EP, the breakdowns do just as much harm as good. While surely they're used more sparingly than before, this time around it's the production turn to ruin ‘em.
The production on the album does both positive and negative things for the band's sound. To be positive, it perfectly mirrors the mechanical sound the band was going for, but on the downside, it leaves a lot to be desired. The band's drummer, Justin Rousselle, is definitely one of the more creative-mega blasting drummers, but thanks to the production you'll be limited to hearing, at least for the most, the kick-drums, which are, for the record, ridiculously triggered (though they'd have to be to capture the speeds he's playing at). The drum sound is directly linked to my earlier point about the breakdowns being less than effective. More often than not, the breakdowns sound puny and weak. When I hear a breakdown, I want to be able to picture the drummer pounding as hard as he can on the drums, smashing the cymbals with intense ferocity. And though it's not to say he isn't, the drum sound is so dominated by the kick that much of the cymbal work is pushed far into the background, resulting in breakdowns coming off as completely hollow. The guitars and vocals are perfectly captured, but the bass-work also leaves a lot to be desired. The bass doesn't really seem to add too much of a low-end to the mix and though bassist Dennis Bradley is clearly holding his own, you'll be hard pressed to notice it.
So I don't really know what to say about this album that hasn't been said already. Technically speaking, these dudes have definitely proven themselves. Hell, they've even sort of matured as songwriters. But, what it all boils down to is a release that doesn't really prove itself. The songs are satisfying, I mean, you can headbang, floor punch and do any of the other stupid sh
it metalheads supposedly do when they listen to music, but the problem is that by the time this album's over, you're left with a fairly contrived experience. It is what it is, and I love that about it. It's fuc
king fast, brutal and it definitely brings the shred and mosh in equal parts, but that's literally all it does. Some people are okay with that, but I'm not one of them. Still, if you take away some points for the production and a few more for the lack of variation, you're still left with a fairly decent release. I definitely see a lot of people eating this up, and they should. It's about time someone knocked Necrophagist
off the Tech-Death pedestal, and if anyone can do it, it's these guys, but maybe I'm just patriotic. It's faster, more complex and honestly more fun to listen to.
Oh, and if you play an instrument, this might make you want to give up, at least temporarily. So that's cute.