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Over their career, Beneath the Massacre is a band that, because of their increasing popularity, helped developing a brand of death metal which many might like to refer to as “technical wankery” or even “Brain Drill death metal”. This over-paced wall of sound kind of brutal music has generated an endless cult of clone bands, often fusing the aesthetics of modern deathcore with ridiculous guitar skills. Most bands are, in my opinion, pretty laughable as they use these competencies as an argument to make people think they create music of great quality. It is unfortunately not often the case but overshadowing these copy/pasted bands is none other than the originators themselves: Beneath the Massacre. With Incongruous, their newest album, the Montreal quartet strikes as violently as ever, only with more maturity and confidence.
This improvement could already be heard when they released the Marée Noire EP in 2010. These four new songs (not counting the interlude) were a pretty strong sign of their step up in terms of songwriting. By having a darker general vibe and better song structures, the band set the bar very high for itself. The riffs were better and the songs flowed way more smoothly. Their newest effort sounds just like an upgraded version of that EP. Everything is much more solid. There are no more predictable breakdowns thrown here and there (i.e. Reing of Terror, Nevermore) and no weird transitions between guitar parts (i.e The System’s Failure). There is one particular song called “It” which features the most impressive leads I’ve heard from guitarist Christopher Bradley. It is very reminiscent of Necrophagist due to its neoclassical orientation. There are absolutely no fillers on this record. Even the traditional interlude halfway through the album is the best one they’ve recorded yet, as it’s not just an uninspired breakdown or dull samples. It all flows in a brutal harmony of crazy riffs and improved drum patterns. In this matter, I’ve always felt that Justin Rousselle was very simplistic in style yet furious in speed. It’s not the case anymore as he succeeds in adding an extra creative performance in these evermore chaotic rhythms. The bass guitar is definitely there but is hard to isolate over the course of your listens. All I can say is its crunchy distorted tone is probably more appreciable than its prowess. Vocally, Elliot Desgagnés provides what he does best as usual. He still sounds like a bear, which couldn’t be more accurate for a band like this. The vocals are monstrous and are sung with the catchiest vocal patterns, something common to all of Beneath the Massacre’s work. On a less positive note, I’ve always thought they lacked variety but since they fit the music so well, it’s easily forgettable.
This time, after years of blind trust recording with Yannick St-Amand (ex-Despised Icon), they’ve chosen to record with Cryptopsy’s own Chris Donaldson who also engineered Marée Noire. It seems this man is capable of the impossible. Beneath the Massacre have often been accused of sounding too mechanical and fake. This is due mostly to the drums which relied a lot on editing in previous albums. I don’t know if that issue has been completely solved but they definitely sound more natural on Incongruous. It sounds right how that kind of metal should in order to be efficient. The drums are fat and the guitars are destructive.Then, the bass line just adds a little crunch et voilà! As for the vocals, they do sound processed but repeated listens of this album made me realize how they do not rely on multiple layers, as opposed to most vocalists’ studio performance nowadays. Elliot’s reputation therefore remains intact. The general feel of the album’s production is that it’s very heavy and well balanced. Every instrument stands out and makes it highly enjoyable. This is no surprise since renowned producer Alan Douches once again handled the mastering of this opus.
Incongruous pretty much rectifies every flaw Beneath the Massacre ever had. While Evidence of Inequity lacked structure and Mechanics of Dysfunction lacked riffs, Incongruous really succeeds where those albums failed. Even the childishly catchy Dystopia is surpassed by this new offering. Incongruous clearly redefines Beneath the Massacre’s sound. As Elliot told SkullBones, “I think you can hear that we are getting more mature with each new album and we personally feel we are getting closer to the sound we've always been going for but couldn't exactly nail it down.”