Sound — 8
After reviewing their second full-length, "Dystopia," and their follow-up EP, "Maree Noire," it surprised me that it took me this long to really get around to listening to their 2012 (and as of the time of this review, most recent) album, "Incongruous." On my last two reviews, I had noted the band's compositional skills and the brutal, though often monotonous, nature of their instrumentation. But they had been steadily improving with each release and working to find their groove. I had figured that "[in] a few more albums, they may end up finally achieving their goals [of a great Canadian tech-death record]."
While "Incongruous" isn't the ultimate in technical death metal or deathcore out there, this album truly does pick up where "Maree Noire" left off, opening right out of the gate with tapped diminished minor tapping and blastbeats on "Symptoms." No room for an elaborate intro or ambiance, just right into the sonic assault of their extreme speed and brutality. By the time you're a few songs in, you notice there are a few differences between this record and the ones before it. First off, while Christopher Bradley still plays 7-string guitars in drop-A tuning, he doesn't use the low range of his guitar nearly as often as his contemporaries, preferring to use the 7th string only when a part calls for it. I dare say there are many riffs that can be played on a 6-string in A=440. The open-chord chugging breakdown, which plagued their first few releases, is all but gone. And there are more guitar solo moments than ever, including a particularly great melodic guitar solo in "It," which might be the most melodic thing the band has ever done in their entire career. Reviewing the individual songs can still be an exercise in futility, as many of the tracks sound very similar, utilizing the same sets of sounds and tempo shifts and tapping licks. Every song still sounds like an attempt to cram the most notes into 2-3 minutes as possible. But the way these tracks are all arranged is better than anything the band has done so far. With bits like the melodic solo in "It" and the more recognizably technical parts in songs like "Damages" and "Grief," it seems like the band is trying to inject more musical variety into their sound.
Production-wise, everything is still loud, it's sometimes quite hard to hear the bass (which is one drawback compared to "Dystopia," which had an incredible bass tone), and even despite its short length of only about 32 minutes, the album can be a bit tiring to listen to. But out of all the albums Beneath The Massacre has released, this one's the most musically rewarding.
Lyrics — 7
I feel like I could repeat the lyric part of my review of "Maree Noire" verbatim, and it would still apply to this record. Vocally, Elliot Desgagnés makes up for his lack of variety by being as brutally guttural as possible 100% of the time. Delivery-wise, his vocals are probably the most evil-sounding part of this record, even if it's almost impossible to make out anything he's singing.
Lyrics are usually vague stories about death, faith, hate, economic and cultural collapse. Nothing new for this band. Anyone who's read a lyric sheet for their past albums should know what to expect, and this album doesn't bring anything different. I never really like reviewing lyrics because the written word is usually such a chore to me, but the lyrics are pretty well-written, even if none of that matters because you need the lyric book to understand what Elliot is singing. This is definitely an album I enjoy more for the music than the vocals or lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
Less breakdowns and more variety in the guitar department (including some really sick solos) have done a heap to make Beneath The Massacre a much more interesting band in the deathcore/tech-death scene, and it definitely seems as if the band's evolutionary trajectory is heading upward, if slowly. In a lot of ways, this record is more of the same as well, especially in the vocal department. The production is still loud as all hell, and I did actually find myself unimpressed by the mixing, especially with the bass guitar, but this is still the band's most impressive record yet. If I had to pick a favourite tune from it, "It" would be the only standout moment, for its incredibly melodic solo over probably one of the slowest grooves on the record.