Released: 2014, Sumerian Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
It doesn’t say much for your new album when the lead track is a pistol-whipping of a Disney song. And when said knock off is arguably the best song on the album, that says even less. And such is the second full-length from French noise mongers Betraying The Martyrs.
The first single from Phantom is a rampaging cover of “Let It Go” - which a lot of people seem to be doing versions of these days - from the recent animated blockbuster “Frozen.” Though it starts with the same piano riff, things get ugly fast on the BTM rendition, which is an all-business, at times almost black metally, deconstruction. Despite the soaring clean vocal counterpoint of keyboardist Victor Guillet to Aaron Matts’ Yeti-like roar, it is the, umm, polar opposite of the cute, dainty original.
Still, even with its bludgeoning treatment, the BTM version can’t shake the song’s insidiously infectious core – especially the chorus, which I’ve had rattling around my head for days – and it offers some of Phantoms' few genuinely catchy moments. The rest of the album is the sturm and drang histrionics typical of “verb the noun” deathcore bands, though it’s done with a bit more savvy and vehemence.
BTM's penchant for black metal sprints, brief as they may be, on “Where The World Ends,” “Closure Found” and the aforementioned “Let It Go,” make for a welcome twist I only wish the band thought to employ more often here. It would help break up the lurching breakdowns that predominate, and draw some attention away from the good cop/bad cop vocal tradeoffs that appear like clockwork. Ditto the occasional dueling guitar solos of Baptiste Vigier and Lucas D'angelo, which add a touch of power metal grandiosity to counter Phantom's otherwise near relentless ferocity.
Ultimately, what Phantom could have used a lot more of is “songiness” - “Let It Go” being the notable exception, and it ain't even their song. Much of the album sounds pretty cut and paste, with lots of parts – riffs, electronics, tempo changes, etc. - jammed together around the aforementioned scream-and-sing choruses or ham-fisted breakdowns. There's a lot going on, but not nearly enough of it is particularly memorable.
Simpler might be a bit better where BTM are concerned, as there is something to be said for verse-chorus-verse. And worse case, there are plenty more Disney movies from which they can pillage.