After The Aura catapulted them up to the front of the tech death field, Beyond Creation have enjoyed continued success based on a surprisingly small oeuvre and touring with seemingly continuous regularity both as support and as a headliner. They took the success in stride, releasing Earthborn Evolution three years after the debut and capitalizing on the record’s fusion influence to produce an even more dynamic live show. The studio band/touring band dichotomy seems not to apply to these intrepid Quebeckers, who conquer every stage and stereo they slip into with the utmost class, and if you haven’t seen them, haven’t heard them, or haven’t been knocked on your ass in either process, you’re missing out on one of modern metal’s most adequately-hyped experiences. Three records in, Algorythm tweaks the approach once more, producing a brooding and grandiose expanse that’s as honest in its execution as in its pretensions.
Those pretensions never far from the surface, Algorythm still manages to reign itself in enough to deliver an experience reconcilable with Beyond Creation‘s past success. Ever game for long compositions, the band dive in to numbers like “The Inversion” and “Surface’s Echoes” with enthusiasm, allowing songs to unfold slowly—at times a bit too slowly. “The Inversion,” in particular, builds around droning riffs countered by Hugo Doyon-Karout’s bass work, but ultimately doesn’t build enough drama to justify its length. On the other end of the spectrum, “Algorythm” demands almost eight minutes of attention with far more energetic riffing and solos that build too much momentum to be damaged by the mid-song slowdown. Shorter yet, and far sweeter, “The Afterlife” closes the album on a high note, capping things on a hopeful note, both musically and lyrically. Still, the band’s penchant for lengthy songs has yet to wane, and considering Algorythm‘s biggest stylistic move, that’s no surprise.
Like so many artists before them, Beyond Creation looked to the European classical tradition to inform their grandiose aspirations. Orchestral intro? Check, but it’s a good one. “À Travers Le Temps Et L’Oubli” goes for the mid-album piano piece and largely sticks the landing. “Ethereal Kingdom” pitches a particularly Viennese-sounding lead melody over a tapped waltz rhythm. It’s all there and though the band handles these segues better than a lot of other groups, it’s hardly the first time—or even the ten-thousandth time—this has been done. Though these aren’t awful choices for the band, they do cheapen Algorythm somewhat,1 making the album seem self-absorbed. But when Beyond Creation play proggy death metal, the Algorythm lives up to their ambitions; “Entre Suffrage Et Mirage” kicks off that death metal in top form, feeling both intimidating and adventurous, while feeding the album’s grandiosity with a larger-than-life drum break.
Like both The Aura and Earthborn Evolution, Algorythm is a bilingual album, featuring lyrics in both English and French and making no apologies for doing so. While not as extreme a move as First Fragment rewriting English lyrics from previous releases to make Dasein entirely Francophonic, it’s still effective in reinforcing Beyond Creation‘s identity, both musically and culturally. Metal bands’ insistence on writing lyrics in English—regardless of the singer’s intelligibility or familiarity with the language—has a storied and often amusing history, but the increasingly global production of the music is bound to gradually loosen the Anglophone hegemony. Naturally, the French are keen to buck the trend, and nobody is more French than the Québécois,2 suggesting that the increasing use of French lyrics in the province’s metal might be a good barometer to predict ever more linguistically diverse metal albums in the future.
In many ways, Algorythm makes a better progressive album than a death metal album, but it doesn’t quite do either version of itself justice, and given the length and relative lack of solid riffs and memorable moments, it’s not going to do much for the band’s live show. “The Inversion” and “Algorythm” tend towards lethargy both on disc and in concert, and pale in comparison to a song like “Coexistence” or “Fundamental Process.” The frequent use of fade-outs in the album doesn’t help either, suggesting that long songs like “Algorhythm,” “The Inversion,” and “Binomial Structures” are meant to last even longer than they currently do. Yet even as the band’s least exciting album, there’s a lot to enjoy spread across Algorythm‘s fifty minutes, and its success despite these drawbacks makes Beyond Creation‘s skill clear.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: beyondcreation.bandcamp.com | beyondcreationofficial.com | facebook.com/beyondcreation
Releases Worldwide: October 12th, 2018