Reviewed: [April 2020]
Released [2020 Century Media Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
After nearly eight years of relative silence, Canada’s Beneath The Massacre have returned with a fucking vengeance. Fearmonger, the band’s fourth full-length, is an absolutely ridiculous collection of blast beat-powered, jaw-dropping tech death topped by Elliot Desgagnés’ genuinely terrifying roar. Its intensity knows no bounds and its carpet-bomb brutality is truly something to behold.
The hammer drops with “Rise Of The Fearmonger,” and the quartet keeps bashing away with unrelenting zeal for one of the most vicious half-hours since Slayer’s Reign In Blood. And while the album might not deliver the total package of perfection that Reign captured with its impeccably scripted songs, seamless sequencing and razor-sharp delivery, Fearmonger’s sheer ferocity and murderous efficiency are certainly on par.
What most tech-death bands might spread out over four or five minutes, Beneath cram into tidy, explosive three-minute packages. There is no fat here – no space reserved for needless wankery or progressive exposition. The 10 tracks run from the 2:22 “Treacherous” to 3:31 for the “epic” closer “Bitterest End” and pretty much launch into full-on attack mode and remain that way throughout, save for the odd breakdown that concludes “Treacherous” or the jackboot grooves on “Autonomous Mind” and “Flickering Light.” Fearmonger is lean and mean in extremis, tech death with a hardcore disposition.
Guitarist Christopher Bradley plays like he has four hands – his sawing riffs, flighty leads and finger-dancing bleeps and blips delivered with break-neck dexterity. Yet it still feels genuine – or at least within the realm of human capability. His performances on the band’s previous albums have proven that his chops are no fluke – or some exercise in bogus studio chicanery – and he only builds on that reputation here.
Underneath it all, the furious clatter of new drummer Anthony Barone – who replaces Patrice Hamelin, who left to focus on the more active Gorguts – sounds like a human hail storm over the manic thrum of Bradley’s bassist brother Dennis. Yet even with all of this hyperactivity, there is a modicum of actual songiness here, with “Absurd Hero” and others at least approaching verse-chorus-verse convention.
Taut arrangements and the band’s mechanically precise performance, along with Desgagnés’ commanding presence behind the mic, all lend to the sense of laser focus and, more importantly, purpose here. Beneath The Massacre sound like a band making up for lost time on Fearmonger, and that urgency is certainly catchy in its own right, even if the music is far from anyone’s standard definition of term.