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Beneath the Massacre - "Dystopia" (CD)

Beneath the Massacre - "Dystopia" CD cover image

"Dystopia" track listing:

1. Condemned (4:20)
2. Reign Of Terror (3:33)
3. Our Common Grave (3:43)
4. Skit 1 (0:10)
5. Harvest Of Hate (3:15)
6. The Wasteland (3:38)
7. Bitter (2:45)
8. No Future (0:52)
9. Lithium Overdose (3:41)
10. Never More (3:43)
11. Procreating the Infection (2:44)

Reviewed by on March 22, 2009

"'There are moments throughout 'Dystopia' where a good idea seemed to be formed, but Beneath The Massacre doesn’t follow up enough on it.'"

Technical death metal can be a tricky genre to figure out. While most bands have talented musicians in their ranks, the issue usually becomes having songs that not only exploit that talent, but are able to have a solid structure and steady flow to them. This is an area where many bands fail to capitalize, instead being labeled as nothing more than one-trick ponies. Canada’s own Beneath The Massacre falls into this category on their sophomore album “Dystopia,” going for style over substance. For some, the brutal sound, a force compared to a jackhammer drilling into your inner temple, will be enough to soldier through the brief half-hour running length. Others, however, will find a monotonous and lackluster journey ahead of them.

While their debut album, “Mechanics Of Dysfunction,” amounted to nothing more than a lot of guitar sweeping and meaningless breakdowns, Beneath The Massacre makes a feeble attempt on “Dystopia” to add some much-needed variety to the proceedings. There are a few slower-paced sections, a handful of competent solos, and even some electronics work present. None of this makes much of an impact on the band’s core sound, which is still nothing more than a bunch of speedy riffing and unintelligible vocals.

“Dystopia” starts out with a bang, as “Condemned” opens up the gateway to Hell, a black crevice full of despair and anguish. “Reign Of Terror” continues in the same vein, with a solid closing breakdown that is guaranteed to get the live crowds moving. The problem is, at this point, Beneath The Massacre has basically showcased their entire arsenal of sonic attacks. The rest of “Dystopia” is nothing more than a trek through familiar territory.

It’s only in the second half of “Dystopia” where anything of interest pops up. The quick and dirty “Bitter” gets in and out with minimal damage, with an effective solo from guitarist Christopher Bradley being the highlight. “Lithium Overdose” brings back the extended breakdown to provide a momentary breather for the listener, while closer “Procreating The Infection” brings out remnants of early-day Origin. These tracks help to bring “Dystopia” out of the average category, but don’t do much to elevate it beyond that.

Where Beneath The Massacre fails is in the songwriting department. The band knows how to play their instruments, but can’t write a song that has any type of hook to it. That is the key element that ultimately brings “Dystopia” down. There are moments throughout “Dystopia” where a good idea seemed to be formed, but Beneath The Massacre doesn’t follow up enough on it.

The enjoyment of “Dystopia” will ultimately depend on one’s obsession with the technical metal genre. There are plenty of better bands out there, but Beneath The Massacre doesn’t do anything terribly wrong. It’s just that “Dystopia” lacks that certain catchiness to make it stand out amongst the rest of the pack. Fans of the band’s debut will find "Dystopia" to be a worthwhile, if slightly derivative, listen, while everybody else will likely download a track or two, and leave the rest of the album alone.

Highs: Relentless sound, decent solos

Lows: Sub-par songwriting, repetitive tracks, lack of hooks

Bottom line: An average technical death metal album that doesn't show much progression from Beneath The Massacre.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)