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Betraying the Martyrs: Phantom

I can't say that I who knows what's "cool" or "in." I can detect sincerity, talent, passion, and honesty in music so I try and share my experience and knowledge with others. I also love to learn along the way and listening to Betraying The Martyrs' new CD Phantom, their second for Sumerian Records, lets me both share and learn.

I've heard the term "Sumerian-core" which is supposed to be a derogatory jab at any act signed to Sumerian Records, so that will be at the back of my mind. Any press is good press, right?
Blast beats and very modern-sounding distorted guitar tones (Axe Fx?) open "Jigsaw" and propel us into a heavy breakdown. These vocals are "dirty" hardcore screams provided by Aaron Matts (lead vocals); they seem layered to make a larger sound plus are treated with some kind of effect which has an evil, monstrous tone. The chorus kicks in and a clean, melodic hook is inserted into your brain by Victor Guillet (clean vocals/keyboard). Ah, now I get it. Sumerian-core. This is "death-core" which generally contains death metal versus (usually screamed/grunted/growled) and metal choruses (usually sung with clean vocals) – think Killswitch Engage for easy reference. There are some sweet dual-guitar harmonies, very up-front drums, and bass which hides beneath the guitar lines (read: barely detectable).

"Where the World Ends" features the same formula, plus a technical double-lead guitar solo. There are more blast beats on this song and I'm left thinking "how can a human play double bass drums this fast and precise?"

If one track was selected for a radio single, "Walk Away" would be such a song. The deathcore formula remains and the chorus is infectious plus has a more emotional chord progression and lyrics that beg to be screamed by an audience. The keyboards add a nice touch to create an anthemic feel.

The following track has already received attention because it's divisive; some think it's cheesy and stupid while some think it's well-done and creative. This song is from Disney's Frozen, the ubiquitous track "Let it Go." Betraying the Martyrs' formula fits the song like a leather glove as the chorus sounds, well, perfect. I didn't recognize the piano and chord progression at first and was just bobbing my head along with what sounded to me like a heavy mid-tempo metal tune. Blast beats pick up in the pre-chorus and then BAM! the clean vocals come in and state the obvious. I really can't detect any irony or comedy here folks; almost any good song can be performed in any genre and will stand on its own.

A bit of atmospheric, instrumental progressive rock cleanses our palate with "L'abysee Des Anges" before the title track pummels our heads. Two other instrumental tracks ("Afterlife" and "Your Throne") offer dynamic variety and show a maturity not often heard from groups like this. The effects on the dirty vocals get a little cliché but the multiple extreme metal genres employed offer enough variety to catch your ear over multiple listens. Bonus points to the band for the chorus hooks; they are tasteful and memorable. Without reviewing every remaining track, I will take the bait and say if you enjoy Sumerian label-mates Veil of Maya and Born of Osiris you almost surely will enjoy Betraying the Martyrs' Phantom.

Track Listing
1 Jigsaw 4:04
2 Where The World Ends 4:08
3 Walk Away 3:50
4 Let It Go 4:32
5 L'abysse Des Anges 3:53
6 Phantom (Fly Away) 3:33
7 What's Left Of You 3:48
8 Afterlife 2:18
9 Legends Never Die 4:17
10 Lighthouse 3:30
11 Your Throne 1:04
12 Our Kingdom 3:12
13 Closure Found 4:08

Added: July 29th 2014
Reviewer: Ryan Good
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1246
Language: english

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