Beneath the Massacre
The metal scene is absolutely flooded with bands of a technical variety, and it goes without saying there’s a fight to get to the very top. Based on their previous record, ‘Dystopia‘, I wouldn’t count Montreal, Canada’s Beneath the Massacre in that upper echelon, as my expectations for that record were somewhat dampened by a lack of creativity that stifled the promise shown on their debut effort ‘Mechanics of Dysfunction‘.
Still, that hasn’t stopped this brutal crew from ploughing forth. New album ‘Incongruous‘ is another 11 tracks of brutal technical death metal from the French-Canadians, and long time fans and indeed those who simply have BTM on their radar shouldn’t expect anything different to before. The guitars weedle, squeal and dizzy more than ever before, as the quartet blast their way through eleven punishing tracks. Songs such as ‘Hunted’ and ‘It’ breathe menace and punishing complexity. It’s still the same old same old, a problem in that everything risks bleeding into one another, but Beneath The Massacre have wisened up a little, showing improved intelligence and less reliant on breakdowns, which were too numerous on ‘Dystopia‘ and too one-dimensional. Even when they do go for the chug there’s a little more invention, giving them a sharper edge.
All said and done, ‘Incongruous‘ is a step up from ‘Dystopia‘, despite being largely more of the same. There’s still a few kinks here and there but for the large part, there’s improvement. It won’t set the world alight, but its a positive sign of a band maturing into an effective killing machine. They’re not such a known name over here, especially with so many tech heads about and after two full lengths as well. ‘Incongruous‘ ought to at least ensure that doesn’t stretch to three.
Despite accumulating a cavalcade of plaudits for their previous albums, swallowing up top positions in year-end lists like Sebastien Vettel snatching pole positions, Revocation can consider themselves unlucky not to have risen to the cream of the crop unlike recent metal success stories such as Mastodon, Kylesa, The Black Dahlia Murder, The Dillinger Escape Plan, etc. Their music is certainly on a par with those bands at least, possessing a care-free swagger fuelled by main man and guitarist David Davidson’s style and sheer confidence that most rock ‘n’ roll bands would give their right arm for, never mind heavy metal bands.
Revocation can best be described as a technical death/thrash metal band, but to describe this trio in these terms is scraping the barrel slightly. ‘Chaos of Forms‘ is certainly their most complete record yet, surpassing their previous albums for ambition and even quality by some distance. ‘Chaos of Forms‘ could not be a more appropriate title, as Revocation churn, skronk, twist and waltz and more whilst effortlessly blasting away the competition in virtuostic fashion.
It’s death metal, with thrash elements, technicality, classical flourishes and a hard rock swagger. The majority of what they do is aggressive, tight as Ken Bates’ chequebook, with catchy nuances and hooky riffs all over the place. ‘Cradle Robber’ offers the first chance for an anthemic chorus , but not before a savage blasting and a devastating riff. This track and the songs either side of it are Revocation at their most primal, delivering pure technical riffs and shreds, mixing up thrash and death metal beats and all with killer precision. Even when they’re not going full speed ahead, things are glorious, the closing melodic monotone to ‘Conjuring The Cataclysm’ being a particular highlight as it backs Davidson’s screams.
Revocation then start to show a more experimental side from then onwards, ever subtle at first, before going full throttle for the outrageous. The title track itself showcases most of ‘Chaos’…‘ characteristics, absolutely on the front foot at first…before suddenly stepping back around the 2:30 mark with a spacey solo, and a virtuostic melodic section follows that to immense effect. The following song, ‘The Watchers’, going all Dillinger Escape Plan one minute a la the ‘Ire Works‘ album, and stunning with a Hammond organ solo straight after that. The charm beyond that is that nearly every song is a potential anthem – Revocation certainly know what makes a killer song, and do possessing a melodic edge without sacrificing heaviness, and not for the sake of airplay either.
The brilliance of this band is there to behold – although they’re not unique in that they do share similarities with similar bands of the moment, they’re smart enough and ambitious enough to stand out. Not too flashy to become pretentious, essentially heavy and brutal without sounding the same as the other 99%. That I’ve listened to this album numerous times and have yet to find a discernable flaw is a testament to the level of performance on this record. A must-have.