Published Feb 27, 2020Beneath the Massacre are one of the most technically proficient bands to come from the Quebec death metal scene. The Montreal band were a familiar part of the mid- to late 2000s, beginning with their lauded EP, Evidence of Inequity, gaining a reputation for their technical shredding and deathcore-inflected breakdowns.
Fearmonger is not only the band's first album since 2012's Incongruous, but also the first to feature drummer Anthony Barone (Shadow of Intent), and he doesn't hold back. The blast beats on this album defy all logic and physics. In fact, all of Beneath the Massacre turned up the technicality to ten for this album, banging out dissonant arpeggios and machine gun riffs at some of the fastest tempos of their career.
However, the speed of this album is so extreme that it lacks the syncopation of their previous material. There are hooks that claw out of the clatter, but unless you have a high midichlorian count, you won't pick up on them on first listen. Those meaty beatdown riffs that Beneath the Massacre are known for don't exist at these speeds either, and the breakdowns you get from Fearmonger aren't quite the world-ending mosh sections of previous albums. The song "Flickering Light" is the least convoluted, compositionally, and closest approximation of material from their last album.
What you're left with is a series of variations on a theme, with some songs that are indistinguishable from the next, especially ones that come out guns blazing, like "Of Gods and Machines" and "Bottom Feeders." This album would have been served better by more songs like "Autonomous Mind," which has a unique vibe thanks to that glitchy tremolo effect, harkening to their Marée Noire EP.
Fearmonger takes the technical side of Beneath the Massacre to such an extreme that it serves a very niche market, mostly speed freaks raised on Brain Drill. It's a serviceable work of tech death, but the lack of hooks and variety is ultimately detrimental. (Century Media)