(This is DGR‘s review of a new album by the German band Betrayal, which was released last April by Rising Nemesis Records.)
There are some albums that, no matter how late in the year it may be when we’re able to write them up, feel like we absolutely must do so, especially when we would otherwise have to explain why all of a sudden the album seems to appear basically out of nowhere on our year-end list. Betrayal’s Disorder Remains is one such album.
Disorder Remains was released six months ago in the middle of April, and I do expect it will be barreling onto my year-end list, despite our previous failure to talk about it at length (we did premiere a song from it in April). We’ve covered the German genre-splicing group in greater depth before, as their previous release Infinite Circle was an album that won a few of us over five years back, so if you’ve been with us a while you’ve likely seen the name. But with Disorder Remains the thrashier-prog-death hybridization that Betrayal get up to is elevated to a whole other level, playing out like the most natural evolutionary step the band could’ve made with their sound.
Part of the draw of a band like Betrayal is not just the fact that they play at a pretty fast clip for a majority of their songs – Infinite Circles was especially fond of this – but that the riff writing is very deft and sleek. Much like Gorod or Psycroptic, many of the guitar parts on this album seem to dance around, jumping from one segment to another with surgical accuracy, so that even when the band have settled into a fairly straightforward thrash gallop, there’s always something ‘alien’ about what’s happening. When they’re not in that mode, Betrayal display an impressive, chameleon-like ability to shift to progressively minded death metal, to a melo-death segment, and even to a straightforward and apocalyptic sounding blast.
With that in mind, it still seems like Betrayal weren’t content to recognize they had a strong formula in what they had going on in Infinite Circle five years ago, and instead wanted to push even further on Disorder Remains.
The newest album starts recognizably, with an intro song spilling into the first few tracks, which provide a style of adrenaline rush via speed. “Rise” and “War” – in addition to the simplistic names – are some of the snappier numbers on the record and are built around some solid circle-pit work and hefty gallops. “War”, especially with its Rotting Christ-like percussive battle chants in the backing vocal line, is an early highlight. It’s no wonder that Betrayal chose it as one of the earlier singles for Disorder Remains.
The middle of the album, however, is where you’ll note the genre-clash mentioned previously in this review starting to come into play. Around the time of “The Manifest” and the impressively hook-y “Lost Promises”, Betrayal start to spread their wings and get a little prog-death into the mix. Songs start getting longer and more ambitious as Disorder Remains moves on. The title track and the following interstitial “Chaos Reigns” serve as a fulcrum of the album, as two of the three of the last few songs go well past the five-and-a-half-minute mark. The only one that doesn’t is “Inanity”, which stretches for a pretty beefy four minutes of headbanging.
Betrayal‘s ability to switch rapidly from one style to another all over the course of Disorder Remains, and to do so while still feeling organic within the songs, is impressive. It’s a large part of how Disorder Remains manages to retain your interest for its near-fifty-minute run time. It reaches for some wide expanses and for the most part manages to grasp them, all while the band themselves come off incredibly sleek and polished. There’s no rawness to this sound; instead, it is twelve songs calculated to send the listener across a pretty wide-swath of technical show-work. Songs will come out of left field at times, and the way Betrayal go fully prog-death for a bit in the middle of the album before closing out on tracks that sound like more recent Testament in a bar fight with Psycroptic is a lot of fun.
Disorder Remains is a release that at first blush appears fairly straightforward, but the way this album darts across death metal, thrash, prog, and a variety of different technical show-pieces makes it one that should be listened to.