It’s hardly a surprise that Betraying The Martyrs haven’t been showered in the accolades of a good deal of their metalcore peers. It’s easy to say that about plenty of bands in those genres in all honesty, given a terminal case of overcrowding that only seems to get worse by each passing day, but at least where the majority of bands simply keep their heads low and fade into obscurity off the back of their initial, often undeserved hype, Betraying The Martyrs just had to go one step further. Thus, here we have a band who not only found their greatest success off the back of a cover, but one of Let It Go from Frozen, the sort of move that sends any thought process straight to an over-reliance on gimmickry and virality without even considering there could be genuine skill behind it. That’s not an inaccurate assumption given that virtually all of Betraying The Martyrs’ material to date has displayed all the hallmarks of the usual, derivative metalcore slog, but the fact that they’re still pushing on with a new album shows that, for some unknown reason, there’s apparently still a desire from some people to hear more of them.
Thankfully, Rapture is not a terrible album, and going by the standards of lower-tier metalcore that isn’t lingering below the surface of breaking through, this will undoubtedly satisfy most cravings for the stuff that an average consumer may have. But in the grander scheme that Betraying The Martyrs clearly want to be included in, Rapture just feels like another one of these albums, functionally fine with maybe even the slightest hint of flair going for it, but utterly checklist in nature everywhere else with a profound lack of individual ideas. In other words, Betraying The Martyrs are playing to every angle that’s been associated with them and their wider scene up to now, and it’s not doing them any favours. There have been worse albums like this, but abject anonymity is hardly a worthy alternative.
And seemingly as always, there’s a loss of anything all that meaningful to say to hasn’t been thoroughly beaten into the ground at this point. To Betraying The Martyrs’ total credit, they’re at least able to blow this sort of thing up to the enormous scale that does benefit it on a track like The Sound Of Letting You Go, and at its most rudimentary of levels, there’s a smooth mix of melody and glossier heaviness that at least lands with a satisfying impact. Besides maybe the lyrics which fall into the same uninteresting cesspit that every other two-bit metalcore band wallows in, there’s nothing here that’s so awful it’s worth singling out in too much detail; maybe there’s a synth line that can be a bit too overbearing in the mix like on the chorus of The Swarm, but in general, Rapture manages to avoid some of the more egregious traps it’d be possible for it to fall in.
And yet, that’s not to the benefit of picking up anything more along the way, as Betraying The Martyrs stick to the very middle of the road in a way that’s rarely thrilling or even all that memorable. For all the pretensions towards sweeping, melodeath-inspired epics they clearly plug into whatever gaps they can find with the massive swells of airy synths and sweeping guitar solos, it’s still all produced in a way to cram it into the same narrow metalcore box, and it goes without saying that there’s hardly any creative freedom that can be found there. Betraying The Martyrs clearly aren’t untalented, but they show off their abilities in such a rote, boring fashion, to the extent that it’s hard to even remember anything that actually goes on here. There’s barely a single hook or riff that actually sticks, with the whole point seemingly being to fill space and not go too far beyond its own boundaries, lest it run the risk of having to muster up anything with even an ounce of inspiration behind it. It might sound harsh for an album that doesn’t have too much objectively wrong with it, but here, that can often feel like a crutch to keep the band up regardless of any criticism; there mightn’t be much wrong here, but that doesn’t immediately mean that there’s a lot right.
All of that leaves an album that dissolves on impact with no lasting ramifications on any scene in any way, shape or form. Maybe that’s ultimately for the best – if nothing else, there’s a potentially considerable amount of damage mitigated, and that’s certainly positive – but it only solidifies the notion that Betraying The Martyrs have nothing to offer beyond workmanlike serviceability. Rapture feels like a blueprint album above anything else, laying down a simple, concise template for modern metalcore, but forgetting to add its own dressing to make it much more than an underwhelming bore. Even though there’s definitely worse metalcore out there, Rapture falling smack dab in the middle of the quality scale isn’t the most convincing argument for this being worth a try.
For fans of: Bury Tomorrow, Miss May I, Chelsea Grin
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Rapture’ by Betraying The Martyrs is out now on Sumerian Records.