Since their formation in 2009 Manchester quartet Betraeus has beaten a strong and impressive path with their progressive death metal sounds and devastating live performances, pulling in ever increasing acclaim and eager support. The release of their debut EP Towards The Sun via Siege Of Amida Records should cement their already immense foundation and thrust the band far into the world with its unbridled destructive power and distinctive varied ingredients.
The two years since the young band started to unleash their creativity has seen Betraeus from laying waste to their local area going on to slay audiences on the New Blood Stage at the 2010 Bloodstock Open Air festival and this year inspire and impress with one of the events stunning performances on The Pepsi Max stage at Download Festival. Towards The Sun caps off a great year with its release across all digital platforms and is sure to get the pulse racing for not only fans of the likes of Opeth, Death, Unearth, and Insomnium but all metal fuelled enthusiasts.
The foursome of vocalist and guitarist Christian Sykes, lead guitarist Eddie Johnson, bassist Benjamin Edwards, and Paddy Monaghan on drums, strike hard and relentlessly with crippling riffs and menacing intensity. Their use and fusing of elaborate and intricate progressive guitars, tempered melodies, and emotive atmospheric sounds takes their music into a sphere of its own, giving the band a uniqueness that few come near to sound wise.
The title track opens up the EP, an epic in length and stature, the near ten minute length unveiling the band’s might and creative skills. A rampant array of punishing riffs, senses splitting rhythms, and haunting harmonies to immerse deep within, the track displays scant regard for mercy as it ruptures the ear with its diverse and intense sounds. Even the melodic passion led break where Sykes switches from his growls to an emotive clean attack twists the senses with its striking effect. The song is so varied that to be over critical one could accuse it of losing a little focus in its flow during its length especially when put against the edited version of Towards the Sun which closes the release which feels tighter, but that is being picky.
‘Frustrate Recluse’ comes next with a slightly less varied approach and with a firmly favoured death metal assault. Ferocious and intent on damage Betraeus leave nothing standing in their wake with Sykes snarling out the lyrics over the bestial and angry sounds. Though maybe not the most creative of the tunes on show its urgent aggression and skilful powerful play sees it shine most of all.
The variety the band brings is openly evident on ‘Blossom Into The Void’, a partly acoustic track with engaging and unpredictable play against smooth and expressive clean vocals. With an Opeth flavouring the song shows the band is more than capable of making graceful sounds just as they are in breaking down walls, each direction and spice they use equally effective in commanding their audience.
Two lives tracks ‘Obsolete’ and ‘Locust’ complete the release. Taken from their 2010 performance at the Bloodstock Open Air festival it is no surprise listening to the songs how much they impressed at the event and Download this year, the evidence that if there is one metal show to attend its one with Betraeus on the bill.
Towards the Sun is one of the strongest debuts from any band this year, its diversity and extreme musical skill an essential investigation. The other great thing about the release is if Betraeus are this good now the future promises something very special.