Sound: Since their first release, "Evidence Of Inequity", on Galy Records in 2005, Beneath The Massacre has maintained a relatively consistent sound that involves heavy use of harmonized tapping licks (usually limited to only minor third harmonies), Drop-A tuned seven-string guitars, shifting time signatures, Deathcore-esque breakdowns, deep guttural vocals, and blastbeats. These tricks have been employed on their two full-length albums to date, 2007's "Mechanics Of Dysfunction" and 2008's "Dystopia", which I have posted a review of a long time ago.
The question, when it comes to "Maree Noire" (French for "Black Tide", literally), is whether this band has done anything to actually evolve as musicians in the time since 2008. The evolution of this band has been fairly subtle since their formation, but the formula remains essentially the same on this EP. Elliot Desgagns' vocals retain the same guttural qualities as always, and are probably the only real detracting quality from this record, as they're still fairly monotonous. Christopher Bradley's guitar playing has evolved a bit from the band's early days, but the minor-third harmonies are still all over the place. Dennis Bradley's bass guitar is a little more audible at times, and Justin Rousselle still viciously attacks his drums as fast as possible.
But there are fewer breakdowns in the songs, some of the guitar riffs show much more creativity and, strangely enough for this band, clarity. When there are time signature changes, they don't seem as random or out of place. It seems that this band's compositional skills have improved over the years.
Even songs like the 43 second-long "Drill Baby Drill" show this evolution, with one of their heaviest and best guitar riffs ever recorded, but still showing a far simpler side of this otherwise over-the-top band. The lone guitar solo on the EP, in the song "Designed To Strangle", is a very expertly composed piece that shows not only Christopher Bradley's skills as a guitarist, but his improved compositional skills.
One of this EP's saving graces is its length. Clocking in at less than 15 minutes, this entire EP never overstays its welcome, and doesn't seem nearly as headache-inducing as some of their longer albums. // 8
Lyrics: As with most of Beneath The Massacre's albums, the topics covered on this record, lyrically, stem from the usual death metal and metalcore lore: death, religion, politics, and loss. Elliot's guttural vocals remain monotonously low-pitched and evil throughout this EP, and he never varies from this sound.
Because of this lack of variation, it's hard to take some of his lyrics that much more seriously. Especially in the final song, "Anomic", which seems to be about the end of a romantic relationship. His delivery isn't really befitting of lines like "Sometimes all you need is something to hold on to/That thing for me was you". Otherwise, this is some pretty solid work. Nothing to really complain about lyrically, but there's nothing very inventive about it. // 7
Overall Impression: Overall, my impression of this record is that the band has shown some signs of improvement over the past few years, and are getting closer to achieving their goals of a great Canadian tech-death record. In a few more albums, they may end up finally achieving their goals. But they still have a bit of a ways to go. The best part of this record is the fact that it's a very short taste of their style, and that really cuts out some of the monotonous qualities of their music a bit.
These guys are getting better and better with each record, though, and I have to give them mad props for being among some of the most talented metal musicians on the Quebec scene in recent memory. // 7