Review: Betraying The Martyrs – ‘The Resilient’

 

When I heard that I would be reviewing The Resilient by Betraying the Martyrs, I was pretty stoked.  Through my metal discussions (or, rather, my eavesdropping), I’ve heard a lot of talk about Betraying the Martyrs.  Until now, though, I’ve never really taken the time to seriously listen to them!  (Hey! Guy with the dropped jaw—put that tongue back into your mouth!)

 

Now, I do have mixed opinions on the album, so you might say that I’m sitting on the metaphorical fence here.  I do know, however, that I have a lot to say.

 

Unlike my other reviews thus far, I want to start off by talking about the instrumentals because, holy fuck—they’re so complete, emotional, and just… all-around amazing.  Heck, some songs like “Ghost” even included riveting, crystalline-sounding keyboard elements that truly added to the direction and mood of those pieces.  What’s most notable throughout The Resilient is the quality of the instrumentals.  Each instrument is played super cleanly with just the right amount of complexity to each part, and the instruments collectively work together very well in each song.

Maybe I’m biased as a percussionist, but I’m going to jump to the drummer here: I was astonished.  I wish I could play with just as much spirit, confidence, and complexity as the drummer did throughout the entirety of The Resilient.  It’s so hard to play percussion like that when you can easily sound as if you’re just banging on various objects.  But on the album, you can actually hear the energetic bounce of the snare. You can catch the slow dragging parts of slower songs such as “Won’t Back Down;” you can catch all the variations and flavors there are.  And God, the sound pops so well in each song!

I also wanted to mention that I’m impressed with the clearly audible bass in this song, which greatly emphasizes just the right beats of each song, adding a pounding pulse to your ear.  I can see myself walking down the street with a set beat, nodding my head to each song.  Yes, the rhythm overall is that powerful, strong, and hypnotic in this album.

The dirty vocals in this song were also a success.  They were executed very powerfully: each sound so rich and deep with a little grit thrown in- just an overall boulder-like sound that works very well.  I think the dirty vocals most reminded me of Whitechapel’s dirty vocals, which I’m very fond of.  Overall, the dirties have a girth that seems to carry stone, each stone accented by crumbling grit and impeccable delivery.

I wish I could say the same for the clean vocals, but they left a little more to be desired, as is typical of the cleans in many metal bands.  Sure, the album’s cleans were leaning on the good side in some songs (“Ghost,” for instance), but the cleans definitely didn’t fit every song in which they were used- that’s something that should have been considered.  After all, we can’t expect a nasal, sharp singing style in a grim battlefield scene, and that’s how I felt listening to some songs.  “Lost for Words” and “Won’t Back Down” were notably on the nightmarish side… the missing link was all in the mismatched mood.  I’d say that overall, the clean vocals sound slightly similar to those of Famous Last Words, but with a catch: Famous Last Words succeeds with their cleans.  The reason for this is that their cleans match their songs’ lyrical and emotional content. Famous Last Words is more ‘emo-desperation-heartbreak,’ whereas Betraying the Martyrs is more ‘kill-aggressive-revenge.’  So, I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again:  It’s all in the mood.

In most of my reviews, I pick a song whose mood I choose to describe with imagery so that you can visually hear the song. In these cases, I usually fixate on a song that stood out to me as exceptional or as showing a trend.  But not this time. Maybe there’s just too many songs on this album, but for me, there’s wasn’t a singular song on the album that jumped out and screamed, “MOST UNIQUE!” or “THE BEST!”  I’ll admit that the pieces sounded very easy to mix up and many songs could have taken a different direction.  Perhaps a little more variety between all the songs would help the album stand out more as a complete bundle of notable works.  I do admit that it’s hard for metal to show clear variety, and I will say that Betraying the Martyrs does a good job with unique instrumentals (*AHEM* keyboard), but more should be done to make each song pop.

Let’s harken back to that metaphorical fence I was talking about: The Resilient wasn’t the most amazing album I’ve ever heard, but it certainly wasn’t “bad,” either.  Maybe you’ll see that the instrumentals (shout-out to the drummer and keyboardist!) won me over and beat out the cons in this ranking. (Ruth Xing)

 

Rank: 7/10

For Fans Of: Cheslea Grin, Make Them Suffer, Famous Last Words

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