How do you proceed from a debut album that oozed brutality from its pores? How do you make a follow-up album to a debut that landed you an extensive touring circuit of North America and Europe alongside bands like While She Sleeps, Carnifex, and Whitechapel. Where could Betraying the Martyrs go from there; from being labelled by Gibson one of ten metal bands to check out in 2012? This was alongside Asking Alexandria and Five Finger Death Punch. Well, they could go ahead and release a second album to try and top the critical success that their debut bought them. While making their second album, they could also slit the throats of both brutality and melody and soak the album in their blood.
Parisian death-core outfit Betraying the Martyrs take the formula for brutality overlapped with soaring orchestral sounds that they showed off in their debut, and cross it with the melodic nature of metal-core. Essentially, they create a dynamic hybrid between death-core and metal-core. Phantom sees their British vocalist Aaron Matts gain a much more melodic sound to his voice as a result of a voice modifier. There had been uproar among hardcore fans regarding the usage of this modifier yet if you listen to his voice now, it sounds a lot better than it dead before. He maintains his brutal and harsh growls yet it gives his voice the room to adapt to the melodic sound that the band has now adopted. Victor Guillet’s clean vocals are on point as usual as he pierces through Matts’s string of guttural growls to deliver strikingly beautiful clean vocals.
Phantom swings from one high point to another. Kicking off with the brutal “Jigsaw,” they deliver the typical experience you’d hear from their debut album. Highly technical guitar work, thundering guitar riffs, brutal vocals, synth undertones and soaring orchestral atmosphere thrown into the back-ground. Further along into Phantom, fans of the film Frozen get to hear Betraying The Martyrs give their take on “Let It Go”. Possibly their stab at trying to sound radio friendly as the instrumentals take on a typical melodic metal-core sound which matches to the melodic nature that Matts’s voice takes on. Guillet delivers piercingly high-pitched vocals on the chorus of “Let it go, let it go/ Turn away and slam the door/ I don’t care/ what they’re going to say/ Let the storm rage on./ The cold never bothered me anyway.” Matts even joins in on the chorus and delivers a cover that made me shriek with laughter at first and then I eventually fell in-love with and put it on repeat. This cover has finally made me decide to watch Frozen and I shall have this version in my head when the original is performed.
The technical skill of the rest of the band is demonstrated in the fully instrumental “L’abysse Des Anges” which- if Google Translate is correct – means the abyss angels or angels of the abyss. It is a song that blends elements of brutal deathcore, orchestral music and melodic metal-core. I like to think that it serves as an introduction to the heart-pouding “Phantoms (Fly Away)” which serves as the midpoint of the album. It also serves a song that you would play to open up a mosh pit, which is probably something they do. Progress further into the album and you find a touching tribute to Mitch Lucker in “Legends Never Die” in which Guillet delivers the moving lyric ‘You only live once but you will live forever.” Phantom grinds to abrupt halt on “Closure Found,” rather apt name for the closing song of an album, if you ask me. In-between the thundering guitars and blast-beats, there is the overwhelming sound of an organ. By organ, I mean the type of organ you find in a church. It gives the track a rather orchestral yet also mournful feel which is rather fitting as it makes you feel like you’re mourning the end of the album.
There are times on Phantom where you almost feel-like this an album coming from a veteran death-core outfit with a several albums to their name. Except it isn’t, it is only the second album from a Parisian deathcore band. The French aren’t exactly known for creating brutal metal, or being violent in any-way. Betraying the Martyrs are a band that are shaping up to be a formidable force within the metal scene and are bound to win their way into the heart of all metal-heads with Phantom.
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