Betraying the Martyrs - Rapture - (9/10)
Published on September 18, 2019
I was first introduced to the French metalcore heavyweights “Betraying the Martyrs” through a live festival show just over a month ago. While most people politely shake your hand when introducing themselves for the first time, these musical mass murderers have a less common approach of severing your head clean off with a relentless deluge of breakdowns. As you can probably tell, they made quite the impression. I have in the meantime successfully reattached my head to my body, just in time to give you the info about the new album. As I have seen live, and also heard on this album, this band is probably the most ferocious metalcore act that I have found so far. They are easily more aggressive than the norm, and they make use of all the metalcore cliches (BREAKDOWNS), but their music is actually very rich and diverse. I could also say they sometimes border on deathcore, and even throw an occasional curve ball with a death metal blast beat.
Enter “Rapture”, the band’s 5th full length album. All of the above applies with excellence in this piece. Listening to if feels like all musical ideas are made to connect and feedback of each other to send your adrenaline through the roof. This is a six piece band so they have the man-power to properly divide their roles, thus bringing many different elements together successfully. I must start with the guitar magic. The downpour of heavy corrosive riffs with progressive influences is delivered through processed yet roaring full driven tones, and it has all the energy you need. It’s backed up by proper audible bass that even takes the spotlight on some verses. The occasional lead guitar part or tremolo picking section also finds its way in the music sometimes, and the drums are in two words, spot on! Around everything happening in the music, the drumming may not grab your attention, but the guy does a great job of keeping the songs together and adapting to all the different ideas.
The star of the show is the dual vocal performance of singer & keyboardist Victor Guillet’s clean singing and Aaron Matts’ explosive growling. I definitely subscribe to the low end of his grunts. With the harsh vocal dominating the verses and the clean soaring through the choruses, it’s a very satisfying duality. The two have a great vocal dynamic, and actually complete each other very well. And I must also applaud the keyboard parts. It’s not used just as a surrounding instrument to create atmosphere, as samples or keys often do in metalcore, but there are actually a lot of great ideas coming from the keys. It’s an active instrument that takes the spotlight more than once throughout the album.
Good delivery from everyone then! Sweet! But I think the album’s greatest asset actually comes in the variety that it creates. The singles “Eternal Machine” and “Parasite” are probably more impressive on a first listen, but also more standard, and actually many of the other songs start throwing unexpected stuff at you. “The Sound of Letting You Go” is the first one, featuring a dreamy piano intro and a great vocal dynamic in the chorus, with the cleans beautifully accentuated by screams (sick breakdown afterwards too). There aren’t many solos in the album, but there is a short and rather good one in the song “The Swarm” and “Imagine” has an almost alternative rock vibe, being noticeably more melodic than the norm. I must definitely mention “Monster”, for its piano bridge, vocal twists and the most gruesome breakdown. Some riffs on this one also slip into Meshuggah territory. Lastly, it’s the album closer that simply refuses to fit the genre tag that this band has. This is black metal territory on the drums and riffs, turned downright apocalyptic through the keyboard melodies and cathartic screams.
If I could find any fault with this, it may be that for the average metalcore listener, it may actually be more difficult to follow and not as memorable on first glance. That is because it’s simply more to take in then you expect. I was genuinely surprised by how much creativity can exist under this genre tag. I must also let you know that they are going on tour through Europe (dates below). As I said at the beginning of the review this band truly sells you in their live performances. Check it out! And that’s pretty much it. This band simply surpasses most metalcore and will definitely be a fresh discovery for you if you like core stuff. The album is out now on Sumerian Records!
Tour dates here!