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Betrayer - Calamity
Review: The species of "old school" death metal remains distinctive because, like the hardcore punk which was a good half of its parentage, its goal was to reduce music to a single style: speeding fast-picked power chords synchronized to bullet impacts of drums, with monotonic percussive vocals guiding the whole composition along. Betrayer is of the second tier of this style and crafts songs around a single device usually involving rippingly fast riffs in the style of Fallen Christ or early Hypocrisy, but with an underlying speed metal sensibility (reminiscent of Destruction) to the development of songs, which move through several oppositional scenarios expressed in radically different riffs and devices, such as the tendency to stack abrupt hitches in rhythm and dropped eighth notes against the sinuously flowing tremolo strummed phrasal style.
Anthemic, this band favors choruses with the punch and bounce of earlier bands, but instead of dropping into a groove like a rock band, enjoys shattering the room by substituting a sequence of greater intensity and, when it runs down, running a circuitous path through instantive transitional riffs (usually one and two-chord budget style devices that are remarkably effective considering how little they require) back toward the original sequence when momentum runs down. Much of this album sounds like a member of Sinister sitting in with an early Revenant practice session, in that despite its love of using lead-picked melodies to contrast its thunderrush of power chords often throttled by explosively deconstructing rhythmic breakdowns, there is a lust here for the acerbic riff which extends itself to entropy and then returns, a phoenix of that which normal music would find deniable. Often too much symmetry hampers the direct effectiveness of these riffs, but as with similar act Angelcorpse this is saved by a tendency to thrust forward so rapidly anomalies are absorbed in forward momentum.
Rigidity and rolling conquest tempo often causes this music to hammer unnecessarily at the listener, but like all quality death metal, its artistry is to unite at a sublime level seemingly disparate elements into a bigger picture, revealing even in simplicity that "Eureka!" feeling that when this released was so new to metal music. Vocals are abrasive briskly enunciated growls delivered with the subtle internal cadence including its own opposition that is distinctive to death metal, and instrumentals while simple are effective, including the noisy oleaginous recursive whine of solos. Thanks to the synergistic nature of these features, Betrayer remains listenable and evokes all of the power and depth of old school death metal (with, it might be added, more elan than recent efforts from "that other Polish death metal band").