Album Review: Scrutiny by Beyond the Structure (Vicious Instinct Records)

Estonian death-metal quartet Beyond the Structure return with their latest offering, Scrutiny, due for release on the 28th of April via Vicious Instinct Records.

Beyond the Structure has been an active member of the Baltic metal scene since 2012. The band have released one demo, one EP titled Machine of Progress and one full-length album titled Nauseating Truth to date and have toured throughout Europe on several occasions. Beyond the Structure has been through some hefty line up changes in their relatively short existence. Originally formed by guitarist Artjom Balakshin, drummer Roman Demchenko, vocalist Pavel Torpan and bassist Alex Mattal, the band recorded and sent out their demo before heading off on tours of Finland and Estonia to hone their craft with the Finnish band, Curimus.

As they started working on their debut album ,vocalist Pavel Torpan was replaced by Mihail Makoshin. The band’s debut full-length album “Nauseating Truth” was released in 2014 and received positive feedback, allowing the band to tour throughout Europe. In 2018 Beyond the Structure released a four-track EP titled Machine of Progress. This time with song writing duties divided between Artjom Balakshin and newly recruited guitarist Bartlomiej Kurek, who brought a more technical and progressive approach to the band’s sound.

In 2019, the band went through more changes with Ukrainian musician Yaroslav Luzin replacing Alex Mattal on bass, drummer Roman Demchenko replaced by Simo Atso and guitarist Bartlomiej Kurek quitting the band due to personal reasons. As the band started work on what would become Scrutiny,  vocalist Mihail Makoshin was replaced by Edgar Balabanov due to musical and personal divergences.

So, to clear it all up, the band today are Edgar Balabanov on vocals, Simo Atso on drums, Yaroslav Luzin on bass and original founder, Artjom Balakshin on guitars.

An unsettled start to life as a band to say the least. Hopefully, now, they have their ideal line up and can settle down and concentrate more on enjoying their music and touring starting with Scrutiny.

Scrutiny was recorded at Walter Productions Studios in Tallinn, Estonia by Are Kangus. It was mixed by Igor Ovcharenko in Samara, Russia and mastered by multi-instrumentalist and producer Colin Marston at the Thousand Caves Recording Studios in Queens, New York.

Beyond the Structure - Scrutiny Band

Thematically, the album addresses the trials and difficulties that humanity faces over the course of evolution. The lyrics are inspired by the works of Jean-Paul Sartre, the Strugatsky brothers and Viktor Pelevin. They deal with the crisis of existential existence, mass psychosis, and the inevitable catastrophes caused by the actions of a consumption-based society. Scrutiny arrives with 8 tracks, or around 34 minutes, of crushing metal for us to enjoy.

We get underway with Endless Cycles and the progressive and technical edge is instantly on display. A crunchy riff moves away for a quirky but exciting lead guitar. With a machine like tone and blistering drum power, Beyond the Structure have an impact. Vocals are powerful and filthy, deep deathcore growls with a slightly higher second line giving backing and extra depth. An important move to prevent the vocals sounding monotonous. The drums are excellent and the overall riff is groovy and infectious. The lead guitars, they are all over the place as is often the case with this genre. You may love them, you may hate them as it occasionally sounds like the guitars are just doing their own thing completely. Supreme talent, but hard to follow. That’s not a dig, that’s the genre.

Progressors continues the same thread and is a really cool track, supremely heavy with intense vocals and a strong riff. There are loads of off beat, off rhythm drums and guitar sections but it all comes together quite nicely in this one. I think I prefer this as the song settles regularly and then uses the eccentric metal side to create bridges and transitions, something I do really like and admire. A bit of a chaotic breakdown adds more flair before we hit mosh pit territory through to the close.

Worms of Consumption is a filthy beast of a track. The vocals are down in the gutter with deep and menacing growls. I metallic riff in the verse settles into a catchy rhythm in the chorus of sorts. There are some nice bass twangs as well and a twisting, eclectic guitar solo. A slower thump comes in nearer the end before an absolute belter of a solo leads us into a final section of anarchy with dual harsh vocals ramming home Scrutiny’s message.

Portal to Eternity has a layered intro with a hanging line of feedback before a crushing riff and intense drumming gets your heads banging. A lead guitar comes in to elevate things before vocals take over for a brutal assault on your senses. It feels like the songs have become more settled since the opener. There are still loads of technical and progressive elements, but also way more rhythmic, groove moments. The verses remain harsh as hell with some guitar noodling acting as bridges. There are so many ideas on show in every track and this one has probably the highest density of them. A slow down into a deep melody and some samples acts as a foil for the ambush of heaviness that follows. Loads of meandering guitar lines and drums that give the impression of an octopus playing make for an interesting but hard to follow track.

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Fictional Reality is a shorter track and is better for it. Less time = less messing about. Its a blast of aggression, a straight up punch to the gut with dark death metal vocals, intense drumming a punishing riff. A heavy and slow breakdown turns into a slice of melody and then back into a writhing beats of darkness. Great song. Sticking with short songs next, Beyond the Structure hit us with the two and a half minute Profanation of the Non-Existent. It’s a clever little track, being remarkably heavy but not because of speed. In fact the guitars are quite melodic and steady but all while the vocals spit venom and the drums rip muscles. Another, now common place, melodic slow down acts as a foil for a return to a 20 second blast ending.

The penultimate track on Scrutiny is called Numerous Existences and is probably my favourite track. I love the melodic but threatening intro that leads into a head banger of a verse. The lead guitars just appear at different points to hit you with different lines. The drums, as they have been throughout Scrutiny, are immense. The track has more than enough structure and groove for me to get me headbanging along happily. This is definitely my preferred Beyond the Structure style, still technical and progressive but also settled more than enough for me to actually really get into the song.

So we close out Scrutiny with Mass Psychosis. It’s all a bit eclectic in the intro for my taste though I see and hear the skill and am confident fans of the band or genre will love it. For me, I enjoy the verses and the brutality on offer but adore the chorus. The thick and rich tone used and the slower thump of drums with deep and slow vocal delivery is as heavy as anything you will listen to this year. A sped up section is really neat and exciting as is the solo that follows it.

So, overall Scrutiny is a bit of a conundrum for me. With my reviewer hat on, I am blown away by the skill and talent within the hopefully now settled band. My heart though just doesn’t love music that gets to technical that it becomes hard to follow a beat. Even if just for a short while, it throws me off the song rhythm and I struggle to return. Beyond the Structure do exactly that, but the conundrum is that they don’t always do it. There are songs that are full of ideas and creativity and I just can’t follow them. There are songs that are full of ideas and creativity but also settle enough that I can truly get into them and enjoy them. Scrutiny is an album bursting with ideas and with more than it’s fair share of excellent metal.

I think personal taste will decide how high you score Scrutiny, and how much you enjoy it but there is more than enough quality here for them to make a mark and continue to grow. A solid effort.

Grab yourself a preorder of Beyond the Structure’s Scrutiny, here.

Beyond The Structure Links

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Author

  • Brendan Fisher

    Owner/Editor/Writer/YouTuber - Heavy Metal and reading, two things I have always loved so they are the two areas you will find most of my reviews. Post apocalyptic is my jam and I always have a book on the go and have for decades now. From a metal perspective, age has softened my inadequacies and I now operate with an open mind, loving many bands from many sub genres but having a particular admiration for the UK underground scene. In my other time, when not focused on Dad duties and work, I try to support the craft beer movement by drinking as much of it as I can and you will also find me out on the streets, walking. I love walking, I love exploring new places and snapping nature photos as I go.

Scrutiny by Beyond the Structure (Vicious Instinct Records)
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