Canada-based tech-death specialists Beneath the Massacre have returned! After nearly eight years of slumber, the Great Beast from the North is ready to slay fretboards, shatter blastbeat records, and blow minds again on their fourth album and Century Media debut, Fearmonger. While most bands that go dormant will shed members due to natural causes, the Québécoise in Beneath the Massacre are a close-knit group, particularly where it concerns the Bradley brothers—Christopher Bradley (guitars) and Dennis Bradley (bass)—and their lifelong friend in vocalist Elliot Desgagnés. First and foremost, the trio are a brotherhood. Secondly, this union has afforded the trio—drummer Patrice Hamelin left to focus on Gorguts—the understanding that when they dropped out of the picture eight years ago, they would be able to pick up immediately where Incongruous left off no questions asked.
“It was an on and off process,” says Desgagnés of the time and songwriting gap between Incongruous and Fearmonger. “Some tracks were written right after the release of Incongruous and others as late as the month before entering studio. We just needed some down time after our last album. Some of us were busy with school, careers, other musical projects and Dennis and Elliot had to undergo surgery so even health became a factor. Life got in the way. We really thought that it would be it with the band, but every now and then, we met up and wrote tunes and the tunes became an album.”
Indeed, the songwriting sessions for Fearmonger were naturally spread out over time. The benefit, at least according to Desgagnés, was that the months (or years) between songwriting sessions resulted in a set of new songs that had separation. Fearmonger isn’t an album of single mind or a pre-defined formula. Rather, it’s an album that flows naturally yet retains—still very much extreme and tech-death to the max!—Beneath the Massacre’s trademark go-for-the-jugular sound. From “Rise of the Fearmonger” and “Of Gods and Machines” to “Autonomous Mind” and “Absurd Hero,” Fearmonger represents not just the next chapter in the Canadians’ 16-year history but a formidable level up, the kind their rabid fanbase experienced in the transition between Dystopia (2008) and Incongruous (2012).
“I think Beneath the Massacre’s sound is particular because of our background,” Desgagnés says. “We grew up in a very open-minded music community, where it was normal to switch from extreme death metal to underground hip-hop or whatever. This is less of a big thing for younger generations as the hybrid sounds are now very common, but it was different back then. The sound of Beneath the Massacre always came from Chris’ twisted mind. He has this weird way of hearing music and counting it. From there, Dennis and I are simply trying to keep up with him; and to work on the structure to make it enjoyable for the rest of us. But there are no significant changes in our sound. We always tried to go for the same thing, and I think we are simply getting better at it.”
While previous albums discussed the absurdity of humanity and the reverberating effects of globalism and capitalism—without being too preachy, of course—Fearmonger centers lyrically on Desgagnés’ existential nightmares, specifically on the human condition or rather the state of it. The title track itself is a roar of frustration against populism and anti-intellectualism, two traits that are part of the political zeitgeist infecting minds around the world. However, the frontman is quick to point out that Fearmonger isn’t a concept album.
“The songs are not connected to one another,” says Desgagnés. “There are definitely themes and links between, but it is not a concept album. ‘Fearmonger’ was track 10, the last one to be written for the album and to be honest I was a bit drained and out of fancy words and just wanted to spit on the rise of populism and anti-intellectualism we are assisting. Most nations now have their very own homegrown morons preaching hate and getting votes from uneducated masses. It’s sad yet so predictable.”
Fearmonger was recorded, mixed, and mastered over an eight-month period at The Grid Productions (The Agonist, Despised Icon) in Montréal by friend, fellow death metal shredder (in Canadian legends Cryptopsy), and studio guru Christian Donaldson. The entire effort started with newcomer Anthony Barone tracking drums in October 2018. Barone’s sessions were followed up by Chris laying down the guitars in November and his brother Dennis putting in the bottom end in December. Finally, Desgagnés bellowed in the studio mic in January 2019, with the mix and master sessions occupying the remaining three months. The overall timeline to finish Fearmonger: eight months. Certainly, there was no rush to finish Fearmonger. It was important for Beneath the Massacre to let the extremity, the brutality, the sheer technicality prevail over time.
“Having a pre-production done and approved by everyone before going in studio was the big difference for us,” says Desgagnés. “It was the first time we had demo versions of the songs before hitting studio since our first EP, Evidence of Inequity. So, everyone knew the parts and we were just going there to do our thing. So very efficient and productive while remaining relaxed. Everyone working on the record was burned out from work, school, other projects, and family life. But we we’re still showing up late at night after work (or early Sunday mornings) to work on this crazy project.”
Dedication, ambition, initiative, and tenacity are but four elements that kept Beneath the Massacre on track for Fearmonger. They were so determined to see the release of their fourth album that the original plan was to independently release it before Century Media stepped in—on sound advice from fellow Montréal sickos—with an offer. As for what Beneath the Massacre aim to accomplish from here? They’ve already been nominated by Metal Hammer magazine as “Best Underground Band”; they’ve already played more than 250 live shows on two continents; and they’ve set the bar incredibly high for all purveyors of tech death across four albums. Actually, it’s quite simple. Desgagnés and team just want to get back into the rhythm (and hyper-blasts) of things.
“We’ve been away for so long that we simply want to play as much music as possible,” Desgagnés says. “Living the 9-5 lifestyle for a few years reminded us why we were first attracted to the underground music and its scene. We just want to get back in there and work with passionate people.”