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Lose the breakdowns and you've got a winner. - 83%

Ubiquitous_Alien, January 5th, 2010

I heard of Beneath the Massacre through some of my friends that happened to see them at a live show and couldn’t stop talking about how good they were. I looked them up and figured I would review it since the material on their debut release, the “Evidence of Inequity” EP, is pretty unique. Considering this is an EP with only five songs on it, I’ll get right into it with a track-by-track analysis.

Comforting Prejudice: So this is the part of the movie where all is quite, and then, suddenly, a wall of noise blindsides everyone, bringing with it, shrapnel and other destructive goodies. When I pressed play, I didn’t expect to get kicked in my teeth multiple times within the first seconds. My first initial reaction was “what the hell is this?” The opening riff was played so fast that I didn’t even have time to think before the wide intervallic tapping came in, leaving just as quickly as it had entered. It’s certainly safe to say that amidst all of the destruction I had to pick my jaw up off of the floor. Then enter Elliot’s vocals, extremely pissed off and low, basically to the point. I’m pretty sure that he remained monotone for the sole purpose of carrying the intensity of the music. Though he isn’t very flashy, he certainly was able to make his point. The drums are mechanical and relentless. The songs drums mainly consist of blast beats, double pedal that follows the rhythm of the guitars and bass, and some pretty fast fills.

Speaking of the bass, what exactly is it doing amongst this mess of sound? Upon further investigation, I discovered that I could make the bass a bit more audible by playing it through headphones against the pickups of my bass when the bass amp was on. To my surprise, the bass player follows along with the guitarists note for note. This probably amazes me the most since he’s doing exactly what the guitarist are doing, but with his fingers. Again, I had to pick my jaw up from the floor. The only downside to this big musical fist is that the last thirty seconds or so are unfortunately a breakdown. For all of their talent and ability and creativity to pack so much intensity into such a short song, then end it with a breakdown . . . . . . . Sigh. It didn’t really kill the song for me, but it definitely took away some of the “awe” factor that was endlessly being produced at the beginning of the song.

Profitable Kill Count: With the beginning of the second song, BTM introduces us to something that wasn’t around at all in Comforting Prejudice – melody. The intro is, by BTM standards, very melodic. It was a nice curve ball to throw in there since I figured they were completely emotionless from the get go. However, as the melodic riffs cease, it comes like the smell of rain before a storm; the build up to a breakdown. A whopping 47-second breakdown. Over 1/5 of the song comes from just that breakdown. Again, for all of that talent, I’m kind of disappointed that they couldn’t come up with anything better to do for 47 seconds. However, if you can remain patient enough to sit through the breakdown, you’ll be rewarded with the only solo on the EP, which consists of a barrage of tapping, sweeping, string skipping, and more melody. The vocals and drums are still relentless and unforgiving, and the trio of stringed instruments stays in sync with each other or the entire ride.

Totalitarian Hypnosis: The beginning of this song almost sounds like something out of a horrible space trip. The wide intervals used are both mesmerizing and inspiring, especially with the bass following along with them. So you would think that the wide intervals would stop after the intro, but think again, they weave them between Elliot’s growls and use them as a main riff. Apparently they like using wide intervals. By this time in the EP, one will realize that the vocal and drum formulas don’t really change at all. They’re both mechanic, and don’t really change too much. They’re there more or less to carry the mood of the music. Now, at 1:14 we see another melodic riff, which is definitely a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, it raises your hopes up only to crush them with another breakdown. Another 30-second breakdown. By this time in the EP one can also realize that they could probably expect breakdowns in the remaining songs too. The song ends with the same riff used to open the song, but extended to the point where one can’t imagine how they haven’t run out of frets by the time they’re done playing it.

Regurgitated Lullaby for the Born Dead: Drums open up this song with some blast beats, and then some wide intervallic sweeps come into the mix to add some shock factor. When the vocals come in, the drums follow the scream rhythm, which is a nice twist on what they’ve done so far, but like a bad fart that won’t go away, here comes another breakdown. Thankfully, it’s the shortest of all the breakdowns on the EP, and quickly transitions into some more intense riffage. The precision and speed at which the riffs are played are definitely amazing, but the credit these guitar players deserve is always minimized by their ever-frequent use of breakdowns. It almost seems like they use them whenever they’re out of steam for ideas, which would be a shame since the ideas they have come up with are pretty damn good. There’s another breakdown at 3:33 that closes the song.

Nevermore: This is by far my least favorite song off of this EP. The song starts with intense riffs, intense drums, and pissed off vocals, just like most of the other songs. It’s a formula that really works well for these guys. However, just as things get going, a 42-second breakdown kills the mood. Once that’s over, they come back with just as much force used to start the song. They pull out all the stops, increasing the drum speed, increasing the melody, showing all of their cards as if they’re trying to redeem themselves for that 42 seconds that they lost earlier, but then they completely turn around and close the song with a 1:02 long breakdown that fades out ending the EP. THAT’S NOT THE NOTE YOU WANT TO END ON WHEN YOU HAVE THAT MUCH TALENT AT YOUR DISPOSAL!!! A breakdown that fades out and goes on for over a minute. It doesn’t even sound like I’m talking about the same band. Unfortunately, I am, and unfortunately they ended their listening experience very poorly.

Yeah, I’ve mentioned that they use the breakdown a lot, but lets see just how much they use it.

Track 1: Length of breakdowns - 27 seconds
Track 2: Length of breakdowns - 47 seconds
Track 3: Length of breakdowns - 30 seconds
Track 4: Length of breakdowns - 1:09 seconds
Track 5: Length of breakdowns - 1:42 seconds

Total EP Length: 17:03
Total Breakdown Time: 4:35 = 26% of the total length.

When you have this much talent, and over a quarter of their release is nothing but breakdowns, then there’s a serious problem with either the song writing or the capability of the musicians to think of decent parts to play. I’m betting on the former. Overall, the musicianship is top notch. If you want technical death metal, this is definitely worth listening to if you can deal with the constant use of breakdowns. The production isn’t overdone, and everything can stand out, even the bass. The lyrics are pretty political, which isn’t really what I was expecting from a band this intense, but the vocals render them inaudible anyway, so just listen to it when you want something angry and powerful. The music itself is good for a debut. The playing is great, but the music as a whole is just good. Perhaps in the future they’ll realize that if they can polish up their songwriting then they’ll musically be in a league of their own .