Genre: Death/Thrash Metal | Label: Unspeakable Axe
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba | Listen: Bandcamp
It’s been over a decade – 12 years to be exact – since Winnipeg’s Besieged has put out a full length. They put out a couple songs on a 7″ in 2015, but the band has been relatively quiet other than that over the last while. Finally, these Canadian thrashers have released their sophomore album (which is technically their third album if you count the scrapped debut from 2005), and fans of the band will not be disappointed. Their signature style of ripping thrash metal with a little bit of death metal brutality is displayed in full force on “Violence Beyond All Reason,” and does so in relentless fashion.
First and foremost, Besieged have not strayed away from what makes them great in the first place, and that’s providing an absolute onslaught of vicious riffs. The obvious comparison is Sepultura, specifically some hybrid “Schizophrenia” and “Beneath the Remains.” There’s plenty of other brutal thrash bands or death/thrash acts from that era that are probably also a huge influence on these guys, but you get the idea. Besieged waste no time on their latest offering, as there are very few moments for one to catch their breath. The drums might drop back for a moment with some quick guitar build up, such as in the intro of “Paragons of Brutality” but other than that, Besieged push the pedal to the floor as much humanly possible. This speed is coupled with some impressive finger dexterity in the riffs, as they twist and turn around intricate patterns that are easy enough to digest, but are clearly creative and well thought out in their construction. In simpler terms, this isn’t some copy cat worship record, and these riffs provide plenty to chew on.
The guitar work doesn’t stop with the riffs, as the lead playing further displays some fretboard wizardry throughout the record. Another thing I’ve always liked about Besieged is their inclusion of solos that sound like they’re right out of the 80’s thrash era. Dive bombs fly into complex runs with the utmost smoothness, and are further enhance with tasteful bends and the odd quick arpeggio. The lead guitar tone is exquisite. It cuts through the mix with ease, is full of life, and is a shining example of what a lead tone should sound like. It doesn’t feel overly drenched in any effects, but there’s certainly something there to give it a little extra texture, such as in “One World Coma,” and there seems to be a wah pedal present throughout a lot of the solos. Again, very much in line with its 80’s thrash influences, and is executed at a very high level.
The production is generally really great on this record, especially with the way the guitars and vocals are done. There are some tasteful vocal effects thrown in here and there, as well as double tracking to give them some extra power. The drums, however, aren’t as satisfactory to my ear, and for two reasons. First, the toms are very boxy sounding, and they stick out a little funny because of this. Second, the kicks are very clicky. This isn’t much of a problem for most of the record, but there’s some parts in “One World Coma” where the drums become the focal point, and the typewriter kicks become so apparent. Otherwise, the drum performance is just as ferocious as the riffs, and the interaction between the riffs and drums is what propels this record the whole way through.
Clocking in at a mere 26 minutes, the 7 songs on “Violence Beyond All Reason” is a lean affair with zero filler. It is a little disappointing that it’s not longer, especially considering how much time there’s been between albums. Of course, it’s always better to have quality over quantity, and Besieged excel when it comes to what matters. “Violence Beyond All Reason” is without a doubt a worthy follow-up to “Victims Beyond All Help,” and is almost as if the similar album titles is a clue that they haven’t deviated from what made them great in the first place. Fans of late 80’s death/thrash like Demolition Hammer, Incubus, Morbid Saint, and of course, Sepultura need to get this in their ears immediately!