Sound — 8
Sonically, this album has an incredibly heavy, downtuned sound, with guitar riffs circling in diminished/minor third scales, impossibly precise blastbeats, insanely guttural vocals, and impressive production. There are a few differences between Dystopia and Mechanics Of Dysfunction. For instance, there seem to be more breakdowns, there's a bit more variety in the drum work, the guitar riffs are more "recognizable", and there are even a couple of guitar solos. Some of the tempos have slowed down a bit, as well. Their style is nothing innovative, and they seem to borrow pretty equally from bands like Ion Dissonance, Necrophagist, and maybe a little from some current deathcore bands like Whitechapel. My criticism of this album's sound is mostly in the utter lack of variety between songs. Most of the songs seem to revolve around the same diminished scale riffs, blast beats, vocal style, and it can be kinda hard to differentiate songs. Luckily, this album is barely 40 minutes long in total, so it's short and sweet, and the lack of variety doesn't seem to affect you that much. But it would be interesting to see what this band could do if they varied their sound a bit more. This album contains a re-recording of their song "Nevermore", which comes from their debut EP, Evidence Of Inequity. It's pretty much true to the original version, though what was once possibly the only instance of a clean guitar on a BtM album ended up being distorted here. The guitar player is insanely talented, but rarely solos. There are a couple of solos, most notable is the one in "Bitter", but most of the guitarist's lines are harmonies, almost exclusively in minor thirds. The drummer holds his own, with the most musical variation of any musician in this band. One could criticize him for triggering his drums, but the end result sounds pretty sick, so I'm not going to criticize the means. The bass tends to follow the guitar riffs most of the time, and it's only on the short "No Future" and a brief moment in "Nevermore" where the bass is the lead instrument. He's incredibly talented, but his tone is dirty and tends to blend in with the guitar too much, making it hard to pick out a standout bass line.
Lyrics — 6
Lyrically, the album paints a pessimistic picture of the human race, from subjects like dictatorships to capitalist materialism. One could say that Dystopia is a loose concept album, since all the lyrics focus on pretty much the same topic: how mankind is turning our society into a dystopia. Elliot delivers these lyrics through the entire album with the same guttural approach, a kind of deep, throaty growl. This is probably my biggest criticism with the album, is the lack of vocal variety. One need not even "pussy out" and do clean vocals for variety. The lack of variety in the vocals means that it's impossible to pick out one song from another, and it makes some of the songs kind of boring. The lyrics are amazingly done, but the vocals could have used better treatment. It seems that at least in the vocal department, BtM were content with "just getting the job done" rather than amazing us.
Overall Impression — 7
Overall, Dystopia is a decent effort from this Montreal band. It has its flaws, and needs to address a lot of them before they can become a "great" band. These guys have serious potential, and are some of the most talented dudes on the Quebec metal scene right now, yet they seem pretty much content just "getting the job done". With some more variety, these guys could be the next Necrophagist or something. Compared to their other albums, though, they are showing some signs of improvement. Their breakdowns make more sense in the context of the songs, there is some more variety in the drum work, and the guitars are working out to play more melodic riffs than before. But the band needs to shed some of their more generic trappings (maybe removing some of their breakdowns would be nice). Additionally, this band and their songs are more fun to watch live than to listen to on record. Having recently caught them on stage in Sudbury, they played with much more energy than the other bands on the bill, and their musicianship translated pretty well to the crowd. They also sounded magnificent. I am not confident that I would recommend this album to someone seeking an introduction to the genre, but to someone who is already familiar with technical death metal or deathcore, and wants to hear something new, I would recommend it. It's a solid record, and if it were stolen, I'd buy it again, though I'd try to find it as cheap as possible.