Written by: Izzy
For those who aren’t familiar with the deathcore and tech death scenes, Beneath the Massacre are pretty well known and recognized amongst both communities, and dare I say even beloved, certainly at least by some. They first popped up in 2007 around the second wave of deathcore when it really became popularized. As such, most of their notoriety came from the deathcore scene despite “true” fans swearing they were technical brutal death metal; granted, their first two records were more like deathcore flavoured tech-death so that was somewhat valid at the time, but nowadays this and their last record are very much...tech-death flavoured deathcore. I’d never actually listened to this band before because of my phobia of bad tech-death and bad late 2000's deathcore joining forces, but figured since this is their first album in 8 years it’d be worth checking out for posterity, especially given all the praise I’d seen for it amongst both reviewers and my friends.
“Wankery” is a bad word that’s normally thrown around haphazardly to shut down honest discussions about intentionally technical music, but I’m going to do the music world a huge favour and give it a definition right here and now for the sake of this review.
/ˈwaNGkərē/ : Verb
1. Highly technical playing (often at a fast tempo) that disregards its place in the song structure and/or groove for the (apparent) sake of just showing off.
2. Unnecessary technicality that is not to the benefit of the listening experience or composition.
This album has taught me two things: 1. How to identify true wankery; and 2. That I hate this band and never want to listen to them again. I have learned of the great disrespect I showed to bands like Beyond Creation or Obscura by calling them “wankery,” because while the playing is overly technical it does enhance the music in it’s own way, Fearmonger, on the other hand, is an album that would be significantly improved if the guitarist had two less fretting fingers and this ended up as a no frills by-the-books deathcore album. It is pure, unfiltered, genuine wankery.
There’s barely a single break in the constant wall of technicality in this album, it’s near unbreakingly filled with million-note-per-second riffing, if you can even call it a riff, the only reprieve coming in the form of the occasional breakdown. I can’t say for certain if they’re actually good but given the nature of this album, any time there’s only one guitar playing is pure bliss. The music isn’t fun to begin with and gets significantly more and more grating as the album continues, by the end it feels like Beneath The Massacre accidentally fused deathcore and harsh noise wall instead of tech death.
This is not even remotely helped by the nauseatingly sterile production, I’m normally not bothered by this stuff, but every awful new deathcore band seems to be produced this way. It removes any oomph or power behind the guitar work I find actually bearable, like I’m listening to a lion with clipped vocal chords try to roar, a once mighty beast reduced to a pitiable state.
This insistence on sempiternally sweep picking and showboating ruins any pleasure I would’ve found in Fearmonger. The deathcore aspects are decent but the constant note spam does nothing for me, it takes the genres already extreme technicality and pushes it to its limits, but Beneath The Massacre were too preoccupied wondering if they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should. I’d rather listen to Merzbow or Tourette at this point, at least those artists don’t have that soulless squeaky clean modern deathcore prod to boot. This album is horrendous and the only way I could purge my hatred of it from my system was to take to the old keyboard (or quill, to keep on brand with our little Village.)
It feels amazing to write something with so much vitriol and invective once in a while, so don’t take this as a personal attack if you like this band, go enjoy them as much as you want, but it’s my turn on the soapbox and I will speak from my heart. This band and this album are awful, don’t @ me, I feel sorry if you’re a genuine fan or god forbid one of the band members reading this (though I highly doubt I’m important enough for the latter), but I cannot find more than a sliver of enjoyment in this album, it is and will likely remain one of the worst albums of 2020 in my view, it spits in the eye of both good deathcore and good tech death.
Beneath The Massacre - Fearmonger was released Feb. 28 via Century Media Records
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!