Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: March 3rd, 2023
For Fans Of: At The Gates, The Halo Effect, Mors Principium Est
Expectations can affect the world in funny ways. If you expect trash and get something salvageable, said salvageable item can feel more valuable than any treasure that just isn’t quite as good as you thought it would be. I approached Necropanther’s fourth full length album Betrayal with trepidation. Sure, Eyes Of Blue Light and The Doomed City both left a lasting positive impression on me and this band has never really failed to give me a good time, but no perfect streak could continue forever, right? Every band has their bad albums, I think. Turns out that the gambler’s fallacy can also affect the world in funny ways.
Necropanther are a Denver-based melodeath band from Denver that continue their upward trend on Betrayal. The group has successfully boiled all doom influences that occasionally inhabit melodeath out of their sound. Mostly What you heard is much closer to early Dark Tranquility or At The Gates than something like Insomnium.
On Betrayal, Necropanther offers absolutely nothing new. This ends up being the album’s biggest strength. Rather than pushing the boundaries of music or straining against the limits of their songwriting capacity, Necropanther simply iterates on what has come before. Betrayal is both a progression of the classic melodeath sound and of the band’s own discography. Yes, they have upped the aggression slightly from previous releases, but this doesn’t result in a completely different listening experience. Instead, Necropanther take what they know, gather their songs, and try again.
Twin guitars lead the way on Betrayal. From the solid and memorable riffs to the fun, flying solos, everything on these tracks revolves around Necropanther’s ability to squeeze everything they can out of their buzzing strings. The relaxed and clear production allows for the two to truly bounce off of each other, and create a bit of conversation between the two at points, such as right off the bat in the opening track “One And Only.”
Outside of the guitars, all of the other performances sound fine. The drummer plays out of his mind at times, but this ends up fading in the background most of the time as an aspect of the music that works so well I hardly notice it. Same with the bass, which is vital given the production choices of the band, but which often stands behind the guitars. The vocals get a bit eyebrow-raising at times, especially near the end of the record, but ultimately the relatively high and jagged screams end up working quite well.
I think that Necropanther intended for the title track to be a big finale that closes the record on a slower and more memorable, grandiose note. This doesn’t work. While the first nine tracks all feature aggressive, tight, and high-energy songwriting, the final two feel a bit flat. Instead of the record winding down, it simply starts to unravel. Those doom elements that the band boiled away start to condense again. While I ultimately don’t hate these songs, it is kind of a downer to end on the two weakest tracks, and this can leave a memory that’s worse than the record deserves.
Necropanther continues their string of excellent records with Betrayal. While they will undoubtedly make a clunker eventually, for now I’ll stop worrying and love the absolute bombs that this band keeps dropping. I recommend Betrayal if you’re a fan of the energetic side of death metal, if you think that Insomnium ruined everything, or if you’re looking for something new to play at the gym. If you scoff at songs that don’t last for at least ten minutes and two tempo changes, or if you only want to experience the outer edges of what music can be, Necropanther might not be for you.
- One and Only
- Breathe Evil
- If You Can Count
- Into Danger
- Don’t Stop for Death
- Out to the Sand
Total Playing Time: 39:23
Click here to visit Necropanther’s Bandcamp