Released: 2007, Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
On their 2005 debut E.P., EVIDENCE OF INEQUITY, Quebec’s Beneath The Massacre floored me with their dizzying mix of Martyr/Neuraxis technical brutality and Cryptopsy-like fluidity to their drumming. In seventeen minutes, the listener is literally left winded by what he/she has just heard. Two years later, the band (having since jumped from Galy Records to major up-and-comer Prosthetic Records) delivers their first full-length, MECHANICS OF DYSFUNCTION, and their time off was obviously well-spent. Clocking in at a trim even half hour, producer Yannick St-Amand (ex-Despised Icon) has upped the ante a bit with some nifty studio tricks that only add to the complexity. Justin Rousselle once again dominates with a jaw-dropping performance on drums that is clearly influenced by Cryptopsy’s Flo Mournier. Dennis Bradley injects each track with lively riffs, pinch squeals and stunning guitar runs that will have fans of technical death metal salivating after the few first notes. Elliot Desgagnes’ guttural vocals retain the same generic nature of the genre but are much clearer than many of his contemporaries, a fact that may or may not sit well with some purists. To peg MECHANICS OF DYSFUNCTION as an early contender for album of the year is not far off and considering this is the band’s first foray outside of Canada is frightening. Their Canadian tour last year was cut short after a devastating bus accident on their way to Vancouver but now that the band is back and firing on all cylinders, look for Beneath the Massacre to be a major player in the death metal trenches for years to come.
Within the first five seconds of “The Surface,” Justin Rousselle has already leveled the competition and Dennis Bradley has dealt his first riff-tastic blow. Rousselle is like a human jackhammer unleashing a torrent of kicks and rolls that pummel the listener into submission. Just past the two-minute mark, a devastating Meshuggah-meets-Fear-Factory industrialized breakdown kicks in to seal the deal. “The System’s Failure” and “The Invisible Hand” are absolutely relentless from beginning to end. The start/stop pacing rattles the skull and is done with such exacting precision, the band sounds years ahead of where they should be (their first gig was in October 2005). Rousselle’s blastbeats are merciless and Bradley goes straight for the jugular with his intricate, machine-gun riffs. Rather than go at breakneck speed for the album’s full thirty minutes, tracks like “Society’s Disposable Son” briefly shift down to a mid-paced chug and the well-placed instrumental “Untitled” is a comforting breather at the halfway point.
For all its brazen technicality, MECHANICS OF DYSFUNCTION suffers from what many albums of this style do—monotony. Many of these tracks sound very, very similar. Even though Beneath The Massacre has wisely kept the album short, it can be quite an undertaking sitting through such “busy” and brutal music (think a less-rumbling, more technical Origin or Arsis). The fact that Desgagnes’ rancorous but wholly uninspiring and range-less vocals do little to mix things up doesn’t help, either. Still, Frank Mullen has made a career out of throaty bellows and who is to say Desgagnes cannot do the same? Fans of the genre have had to look past this chink in the armor for years and many may be able to do the same here, especially when faced with a so many other positives.
If things don’t click for Beneath The Massacre (and it would be a crime against humanity if it didn’t), the individual members could certainly make a living as music instructors of their respective instruments. The musicianship and professionalism displayed here is breathtaking. These guys are young and too damn talented for their own good. Rather than take the full-on death metal or grind route, Beneath The Massacre resides somewhere in the middle (and anyone calling this “metalcore” is a complete idiot). The tech metal chaos is offset by outright brutality with chunky death-core grooves occasionally permeating through peppered with fleeting touches of melody that add up to a love-it-or-leave-it album. I, for one, love it but expect just as many people to reside on the opposite side of the fence.
KILLER KUTS: “The Surface,” “The System’s Failure,” “The Invisible Hand,” “Long Forgotten”