AN NCS ALBUM PREMIERE (AND A REVIEW): BETRAYAL — “INFINITE CIRCLES”
(TheMadIsraeli delivers our premiere of a full album stream for the debut full-length by Germany’s Betrayal, along with a review.)
Betrayal is a promising melodic death metal new-blood hailing from Aschaffenburg, Germany. Their new album Infinite Circles is one of the most impressive debuts I’ve heard this year, mixing the technicality and high/low vocal attack of The Black Dahlia Murder, the venom and dynamism of Arsis along with some proggy undertones that call to mind bands like Extol, all firmly rooted by a very The Absence-esque dedication to the best of tried and true melodic death metal convention.
As a guitarist, I naturally tend to focus on guitar work at the forefront of my interest in metal, and as you might expect, these guys write some killer riffs. Every bit of the guitar work on Infinite Circles is elegant and powerful. I don’t know if guitarist/vocalist Alex and guitarist Kilian (the band are on a first-name-only basis as far as social media goes) have any notable previous band experience until this one, but what they have written here sounds equal to the work of talented veterans who’ve been doing this kind of stuff for a decade or longer. They’ve definitely got an understanding of what makes this particular sub-genre of metal awesome. When melodic death metal is at its best, the riffing tends to be very lyrical, and Betrayal certainly have that facet of the sound in spades.
After an intro that’s just build-up noise, the album’s opener “The Shell” arrives as a blitz of fretwork ballet backed by a drum waltz that sounds like machine guns going off in a war zone. The riffs driving this song are fantastic, but the solo section is what makes this song, along with the outro. The solo is fantastically emotive, while mixing in the proper amount of shred; it’s an epic stretch of music. The song’s outro is a classical guitar dirge reminiscent of Allegaeon that also introduces a sax into the music. I think this is the first time I’ve ever heard the two together in a metal context.
“Infinite Circles” is a fantastic title track, showcasing a bit of that Extol-ian flourish with some lush chord work, counterpointed pedal-point riffs, and a riveting central instrumental chorus melody. It’s an oddly dialed-back song, considering the bombastic nature of the opener, but it hits a “heavy yet introspective” note, melodically speaking, that resonates with me a lot.
“Contamination” starts off with a pretty engrossing drum groove and start/stop machine-gun rhythms, hypnotizing the listener you with an aural snake dance, and then bursts into classic Middle Eastern riffage done the old-fashioned, pedal-point riff way. The way the gears shift into traditional harmonic minor neoclassical in the song’s latter half is done really convincingly, and the entire solo section that consumes that latter half is masterfully composed.
“Fighting Perdition” begins with a powerhouse riff drawn straight from the Behemoth playbook and immediately transitions into assailing you with a welcome dose of thrash metal, introducing the latter half of the album’s break into more unconventional songwriting. This song has a tech-death riff, a breakdown, and a melodic death metal chorus, all of them bringing completely different moods and characteristics. While melodic death metal remains the forefront of the band’s sound, Infinite Circles from here on becomes a bit more eccentric in its songwriting approach.
“Watershed” is a beautiful ambient interlude that leads into “Flagellation of Mind”, which includes a hypnotic groove driven by a slithering riff. The chorus is a sudden slowdown with a rather majestic melody — and a kink in it to throw the melody off just a little bit. The song ends on a melancholic, emotive note with clean guitars, melodic riffs that imitate the slithering nature of the song’s verse and leads to a bombastic finish.
“Monuments” is probably the most straight-up death metal song on the album,with an opening that makes this clear. A rapid-fire riff of meaty chords and a diminished progression leads into a riff that really calls back to bands like The Crown. The song actually reminds me a lot of the style of The Crown’s Possessed 13 album. The fantastic chorus of the song, however, really draws on that Black Dahlia Murder influence. It’s a sinister dirge, and one of the most memorable riffs on the album.
“The Awakening” is very similar to “Fighting Perdition” in that it doesn’t really revisit previous sections very much and just sort of moves from one point to the next. It’s got a cool groove in the beginning, and the riff is pretty tasty. It slows down even more, becoming more doomy while making space for some solos, and then hits a thrashy note and exits via a grand death march, culminating in a rather victorious-sounding lead that branches into the album’s closing track.
“Order of Chaos” is a superb closer, and also the most unconventional song on the album. It’s very light on the lyrical front; although there are some vocals in the song, it’s a 60% instrumental closer or it at least feels like it. Where the vocals are placed in the song are VERY weird. The lead from the previous song breaks into this one’s triumphant intro. It’s a fucking great song intro, the melody along with the rhythm of the riff underneath the lead exemplifies that lyricism in the guitar department I mentioned earlier. It concludes with an acoustic break that then moves into a rather black metal-styled riff that pulls from that Black Dahlia influence again, which transitions into an odd bit of Man Must Die worship before concluding in a doomy breakdown that fades out. There’s a lot of content in its five-minute run-time, but it also feels right and satisfying despite its schizophrenic nature.
Betrayal were kind enough to allow us to stream this in its entirety. I’m pretty interested to see where these guys go next with album number two. Catch you guys next time.
To pre-order, go here:
From 2:46 and outward in The Shell is somewhere in the time/space continuum where I wouldn’t mind settling down for a while. When I get old, I want to live in music. Can someone make that possible, please?
I know exactly what you mean. Sections like that in metal with those really enigmatic melodic progressions consume me.
Mmmm… nice. Cool to see some mention of the classical guitar goodness that is Greg Burgess from Allegaeon. And indeed a very interesting twist when the sax cuts in on the closing of The Shell. I’m only up to track 6 but this is sounding great.