REVIEW: Beneath the Massacre – Fearmonger [2020]

Artist: Beneath the Massacre

Album: Fearmonger

            Lets talk about comebacks. Where the recent couple years has brought about a trend within the heavy music community of resurgence, not every comeback is really…you know, a true, heart-rate-spiking, blood-pressure-heightening comeback. In fact, more often than not, these days “comebacks” are a sort of recycling, wherein a band will announce a breakup, wait nine months, and much like a dystopian, cannibalistic pregnancy, explode back into the scene. It makes some money, keeps the internet hype machine churning, and life goes on. But what about those comebacks that are real goddamn comebacks? We’ve seen a bunch of those too—Through the Eyes of the Dead, And Hell Followed With and now, technical deathcore juggernauts Beneath the Massacre. Perhaps one of the forerunners of contemporary technical deathcore, Beneath the Massacre return with a heaping dose of French Canadian fury. Laden with lurid breakdowns, skin-flaying riffs and instrumentation so technical the time changes will give you whiplash, Fearmonger is a frightening display of aggression, power and prowess from an act the heavy music community likely didn’t even realize they missed as much as it turns out they did.

            In a word, Fearmonger is horrifying. Intense, technical and ruthlessly heavy all in one oppressive juggernaut, Beneath the Massacre have spared no expense to create a record reminding the heavy music community why their name carries the weight that it does. From “Rise of the Fearmonger,” through “Treacherous” and “Bottom Feeders” and all the way to the bitter end of “Bitterest End,” the band never stop hitting the listener with lacerating leads that guide themselves gracefully into gritty, gut-busting breakdowns. Percussionist Patrice Hamelin provides everything from machine-gun blast beats to mind-melting footwork and furious fills to give songs like “Of Gods and Machines” an immaculate foundation. Meanwhile, “Hidden in Plain Sight” is perhaps the only real example of Hamelin’s more straightforward side of drumming, using punchy patterns with quick flashes of technicality to work with bassist Dennis Bradley’s beefy low end. Bradley’s bass work gives even the quick and stuttering breakdowns in Fearmonger lasting punch and power, and adds depth to the lightning-like riffs and leads from guitarist Christopher Bradley. Together, both Bradleys launch a ceaseless assault on the listener, with groovy bass serving as scaffolding for sinister fretwork. “Rise of the Fearmonger” sees the band brilliantly balancing aggression with intricacy, whereas “Treacherous” and “Bottom Feeders” go right for the throat, dominating with devastating brutality. In truth, the Bradleys strike an amazing balance between absurd technicality and digestible, comfortable deathcore, weaving a strong, dynamic element of technical death metal between raunchy breakdowns and spine-shrinking slams with rare moments of ethereality and ambience. This dynamic gives Fearmonger the fury and intensity of a hypertechnical deathcore release with the same replay value and variety of more moderate releases within the genre(s) Beneath the Massacre span.

            Fearmonger’s vocals are just as fearsome as Beneath the Massacre’s musicianship, with frontman Elliot Desgagnés’ overwhelmingly dominating feature being his proclivity for diversity. Fearmonger is home to nigh on countless vocal styles and pitches, ranging from grisly, guttural bellows to shrill screams and raw mid-range shouts. “Rise of the Fearmonger,” the record’s introductory number, does an excellent job of displaying that, even as a standalone track. However, as Fearmonger continues, Desgagnés’ range and endurance only continues to impress. Songs like “Bottom Feeders” highlight this, with energy and intensity matching his ability to hit high and low screams with seemingly little effort. Where Beneath the Massacre’s vocal element could have easily been swept under the rug by Fearmonger’s furious instrumentation, it doesn’t—it thrives on the chaos and still sets itself apart, dominating the listener’s attention in equal share as does the remainder of the record’s equally impressive components.

            People have been talking about “best comebacks” for the last couple years now, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Beneath the Massacre’s Fearmonger might be one of—if not the—best one yet. Hitting everything from nostalgia to gnarly intensity without sacrificing technicality or tremendous brutality, Beneath the Massacre have created one of the most masterful examples of technical deathcore the genre has seen perhaps since its inception.


For Fans Of: Rose Funeral, And Hell Followed With, Rings of Saturn

By: Connor Welsh