These Are They

Disposing of Betrayers

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Given the group's origins as a parallel endeavor for active members of Novembers Doom, While Heaven Wept, and Hurtlocker, plus the relatively uninventive death metal heard on its first efforts, it was easy for critics to dismiss Chicago's These Are They as just another unfocused vanity side project helmed by bored musicians, but 2010's Disposing of Betrayers may just change that. In fact, one can only assume that the prideful veterans behind These Are They felt the hurtful jabs aimed their way and responded in kind, because this sophomore long-player literally bristles with unprecedented attitude, heartfelt aggression, and newfound stores of inspiration. Sure, the overall musical aesthetic still remains focused on a "classic" middle-of-the-road death metal style, but it's amazing what standouts like "Behind the Door," "No Angels to Catch You," "By Phaeton's Design," and the title track accomplish with a stack of striking, ever-changing riffs and tempos -- not to mention mournful melodies that are ever oh so slightly reminiscent of the doom and gothic tendencies typical of the day jobs of those involved. Along the way, These Are They also also find time to pay tribute to Chicago's long if often overlooked metallic heritage with a cover of Devastation's "Cranial Hemorrhage," as well as unearthing its historical infamy for organized crime, which informs their lyrics throughout. And it's obvious that the secret to the group's sudden rehabilitation lies in such details -- the reinvigorated songwriting; the well-considered subject matter -- because the musical perspective has remained consistent from album to album. What a difference motivation makes!

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