Betraying the Martyrs – Phantom
The Sumerian machine has given the metal community plenty to get divisive about in the past and only continues to keep this trend alive with the new release from Betraying The Martyrs. Phantom sounds tremendous in parts with keys, blended harsh and clean vocals and guitars all punching clearly through the mix. Even when the symphonic elements take center stage there is still room for the rhythm section to make its presence felt. Unfortunately, these are probably the nicest things to be said about this sophomore effort.
Breathe In Life got a pretty high score over here when it came out and it begged for small improvements that would make this band champions of their genre. What has actually been changed here however is minute, and Phantom suffers immensely for this. The French progressive deathcore act have recycled ideas left, right and center throughout the arduous 45 minute run time. Less than a handful of the albums 13 tracks have any real identity of their own and by the time the title track rolls around halfway through, few will care about the rest of the material. The “progressive” aspect is kind of lost when each song seems to have a clean chorus followed by either a breakdown or synths piled on top of blast beats.
If the first 4 tracks of Phantom (including the Disney cover that could in fact be the best song on this album) were the contents of a Betraying The Martyrs EP then there would be few issues raised. Unfortunately there is still around half an hour of boring music that follows and this cannot be forgiven. What should have been the next big step for this band has ended with them floundering while others around them have released far better examples of what they were aiming for.– MM
Anti-Mortem – New Southern
[Nuclear Blast Records]
Preconceptions are an ugly thing and usually hinder their holder, closing one off to new experiences or simply some good, clean fun. The latter might be missed if one writes off Anti-Mortem‘s latest endeavor, New Southern, in advance. To be sure, the title pretty much summarizes the essence of the album: the bass is turned up to eleven, country antics prosper throughout and the lyrics move between gritty sexual adventures, passionate patriotism and love/hate songs to alcohol. The refreshing addition to the music is the inclusion of breakdowns, although very simple ones. These add a certain heaviness that is rarely found in the genre and serve to drive home the overall feeling of guttural fun.
By far, the vocals are the crowning achievement of this release. They are exactly what this album needed, no less and no more. Without too many fancy aspirations, they contain a ruggedness that is on the edge of hearing and an explosive range when it is called for. All these different elements create a quite enjoyable album. You won’t find any moving passages, musical innovation or extensive production value. However, you will find a dirty, bourbon soaked ride that reads as a crossover between Metallica‘s Load, Pantera‘s The Great Southern Trendkill and Iced Earth. At the end of the day, New Southern does exactly what it came to do: go hard, gritty and violent. – EK