Beneath the Massacre
03. Left Hand
When it comes to overtly technical metal, I drew the line in the sand long ago; if you’re going to be proficient in your instrument, you’d better be able to construct a coherent song out of it instead of an unstructured mess of wank. This concept of the song being more important than how hard it is to play seems to be lost on some bands in the genre, and many times it’s nigh on unlistenable. Beneath the Massacre have ended up dangerously close to the line over the years, but remain firmly on the side of reason in their highly technical approach at songwriting. 2010’s Marée Noire EP hit the sweet spot in the band’s evolution and sound, and they’ve built upon it for Incongruous, their most challenging record to date.
If there wasn’t any sort of indication, Incongruous is packed with nearly impossible guitar work that puts just about every other tech-minded band to shame. Notes come flying at an intense speed from all fronts (sans vocals) with mechanical precision. Some of the instrumentation is just absolutely mindblowing; how they manage to make this much wank listenable is beyond me. It really is an impressive feat all around, especially when you consider the nightmare it must have been to track songs with this level of speed and difficulty across multiple instruments and have it sound so tight and clean. Take for instance the title track, being essentially a breakdown that fluctuates in an odd staggering tempo, taking its title literally.
The production is absolutely phenomenal. Not only is everything tightly tracked, every tone is perfect. The band sounds incredibly massive, and yet every instrument is able to stand out on its own merits, including the oft-neglected bass, which provides a nice crunch to the environment. This production could be taxing for some listeners, as the compressed sound and massive low end can lead to some fatigue after listening for so long, but personally, the production is an integral part of their sound and has become almost signature.
Unfortunately, Incongruous‘ only drawback is that some tracks on the album don’t have an identity of their own. While the album sounds fantastic as a whole unit, it’s hard to differentiate between tracks and in memory becomes a mess of blasts and tapped sweeps. There are some hooks and other elements that make some tracks stand out, such as the voice modulation at the end of ‘Left Hand,‘ but the album has a tendency to run together. It becomes less of an issue when you consider that every song sounds fantastic during the album’s runtime, but when it’s over, there isn’t much to draw from for recall.
Despite these pitfalls though, Incongruous is certainly a tech-death marvel. This is one of Beneath the Massacre’s strongest releases yet, from the larger-than-life production to the impossible guitar acrobatics. While the songwriting needs a quick tune-up, they’re already leagues ahead of many of their contemporaries. 2012 is looking like it will be a massive year for death metal, and this punishing inclusion is certainly a highlight.
Beneath the Massacre – Incongruous gets…