Metalcore and deathcore may not be quite as "hip" as they were ten, or even five, years ago, and they have certainly fallen out of favor with many. Yet the styles remain popular worldwide. France's notable export on that front, BETRAYING THE MARTYRS, has garnered praise and maintained attention and momentum by virtue of a solid work ethic and willingness to fine tune its approach and tech-centric leanings since their 2008 beginnings. The Parisians hard work has certainly paid dividends, as their fourth long player, "Rapture", finds the band at their greatest point yet in terms of composition and performance.
The aforementioned "core" styles are typically encased in chest-thumping bravado, at least as far as surface aesthetics go, but aside from the Swedish-influenced melodic runs and melodic vocal choruses, these modern takes on heavy music are decidedly limited in scope. This makes it all the more bold of BETRAYING THE MARTYRS to focus so heavily upon symphonic metal, an area primarily commandeered by "clean vocalist" and keyboardist Victor Guillet. His centerpiece contributions stand out most notably on "The Sound Of Letting You Go". Generally speaking, the boldness pays off, setting them apart from the pack of third-rate AT THE GATES rip-offs.
"Rapture" certainly does not start off on the right foot. The minute-long instrumental opening track "Ignite" does anything but what its name claims. But the filler is not at all representative of the whole, as the by-the-numbers build-up does lead to "Eternal Machine", a proper song that adequately sets the album in motion with a groove metal bounce that's inherent to the band's identity. "The Sound Of Letting You Go" initially comes across as an obligatory slow-burning ballad of sorts, presumably placed to provide contrast; however, the dramatic breakdown and ferocious vocal assault of primary singer Aaron Matts render any initial, preconceived notions as flawed in a track that proves to be an album highlight.
"Rapture" is, thus far, BETRAYING THE MARTYRS' crowning achievement. In spite of its questionable track sequencing and relatively lackluster start, the Frenchmen's improved technicality and more prominent black metal inspired symphonic flourishes successfully augment the act's bedrock of bruising breakdowns. In short, the ingredients are familiar and par for the course, but like any veteran chef would do, the tailoring of expected flavors is thoughtful and consequently memorable. Perhaps most importantly, "Rapture"'s diversity opens the door for a variety of approaches that will likely make sense their next go around.