While American death metal bands were focused on creating the most visceral, guttural noise imaginable, their counterparts across the Atlantic (especially in Sweden) were imbuing the genre with a more theatrical flair, giving rise to the melodic and epic Gothenburg sound. Showing that distinction holds true even in the world of deathcore, Parisian band Betraying the Martyrs demonstrate the dramatic potential of the breakdown-heavy genre on their second album, Phantom. Storming out of the gates with furious blastbeats and searing guitars, album-opener "Jigsaw" initially makes it seem as though the album is going to be just another in a long line of cookie-cutter Sumerian Records releases. Partway through the song, however, the band pull a bait and switch, putting their mark on the sound by allowing it to open up melodically. Things start to get truly sweeping on "Walk Away," which takes some cues from symphonic metal as the chorus transforms the song from a brutal rant to a piece of soaring musical theater. In a surprising move, Betraying the Martyrs continue to up the dramatic ante with a cover of "Let It Go" from the Disney animated musical Frozen. While Betraying the Martyrs' take on the song is considerably heavier than Idinia Menzel's original version, the two share a similar sensibility, making it one of those covers that manages to convey the same feeling as the original while radically altering the delivery, which feels like a testament to both the versatility of metal and the universality of show tunes. By breaking so many of the codified rules of the genre, Phantom establishes Betraying the Martyrs as an exciting new voice within a style that has been growing increasingly stale. Fans of deathcore, and really progressive extreme metal in general, would be wise to check this one out.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney