Betraying The Martyrs
14th July 2014 – Sumerian Records
02. Where The World Ends
03. Walk Away
04. Let It Go
05. L’abysse Des Anges
06. Phantom (Fly Away)
07. What’s Left Of You
09. Legends Never Die
11. You Throne
12. Our Kingdom
13. Never Found
For modern metal with a progressive twist, France is increasingly becoming something of a centre of excellence. With the likes of Gojira leading the way, and Uneven Structure and Hypno5e following behind, Betraying the Martyrs are looking to join these esteemed ranks with their ambitious second album Phantom.
Betraying the Martyrs build their sound upon a deathcore base, which ultimately places their sound somewhere in between their aforementioned Gallic brethren and their Sumerian Records labelmates, most notably Born of Osiris. Blast-beats, breakdowns and growls rub shoulders with orchestral interludes and anthemic choruses.
Although the majority of the band is French, they also have among their ranks Russian drummer Mark and British vocalist Aaron.
With Phantom, the band are clearly aiming high – but unfortunately the ultimate output misses its targets as often as it hits. For every successful passage, there is another which is thwarted, leaving the distinct impression that the album has been somewhat overcooked. A prime example lands right at the very beginning of the album: opening track “Jigsaw” sets off at a furious pace, but with four tempo changes in the first ninety seconds it is difficult to discern what the band are trying to do.
Too often Phantom becomes a parade of largely unrelated riffs, which in turn makes it difficult to form any sort of meaningful connection to it. Put the album on repeat, and it is really very difficult to spot the moment where it ends and begins again.
There are certainly tracks where it does all come together. “Where The World Ends” is the strongest song on the album by a considerable distance, and their tribute to the late Mitch Lucker of Suicide Silence, “Legends Never Die“, feels appropriate without being schmaltzy or over the top.
But elsewhere, songs with strong sections are let down by a tendency to over-layer. The piano parts in particular seem to exist solely to give keyboardist Victor something to do, and there simply isn’t the space between the guitars and more symphonic backing to comfortably accommodate them. Whilst obviously setting out to build a bridge between the uncompromising brutality of deathcore and more accessible progressive elements, the marriage has not been completely successful and the results often sound confused.
Not all of the band’s experiments with groove work out either: the introductory riff to “Walk Away” feels somewhat stilted and awkward in its attempts at a swung rhythm.
Nevertheless, the band may well be on to something with this formula. Even if the album as a whole doesn’t really work this time around, it does contain just enough moments which suggest that given a few months on the road to tour Phantom, the fruits of their next writing sessions could well produce a more compelling mixture of the various strands they are attempting to weave together. Until then, unless your head has been turned by their hectic touring schedule, Phantom is more likely to feel like a work-in-progress than anything else.