Tuesday, January 21, 2014

…architects of your demise: TRAITORS RETURN TO EARTH – ‘Betting on a Full Collapse’

It’s always refreshing when a band is able to create and shape their music within the confines of a given genre while transcending conventions by including a variety of influences. Ohio’s Traitors Return to Earth are one such band. While listening to their full-length debut, ‘Betting on a Full Collapse’, it’s clear that their main agenda is to lay waste to anything and everything in their path. To accomplish this the band has instilled their debut with a heavy dose of acerbic, down-tuned heft in the blown-out vein of sludge godfathers Eyehategod, with additional metal and noise influences stemming from the heavy underground of the 90’s to the present.

Over the seven track span of ‘Betting on a Full Collapse’ the listener will be subjected to moments of déjà vu—sounds that fire neuronal synapses recalling and hinting at greats both past and present. The album opener, “Human Drone”, for example, is a staggering, stutter-step slab of sludge that is occasionally imbued with angular riffs recalling Duane Denison’s work with The Jesus Lizard or, to a lesser extent, Steve Albini’s scratchy guitar work in Shellac—a sound that also rears its head on the third track, ‘Wall Street Swan Dive.’

Genealogically speaking, it’s almost impossible to ignore the bloodlines that were firmly established in Birmingham, England in the late 60’s that have continued, like a capillary network, to branch out and influence almost every dimension of heavy music to this day. The shadow of Black Sabbath can’t be ignored on the whole of ‘Betting on a Full Collapse’ but is profoundly felt on the second track, “EHM”. The sluggish, swaying groove of “EHM” is not too dissimilar from the main riff of “Electric Funeral”, but it remains filthier and overblown. Despite the similarity to the Sabbath classic, “EHM” is its own angry beast and features some trippy, atmospheric lead guitar work on the latter half of the song.

At the midpoint of the album stands “The Hollow”, Traitors Return to Earth’s most potent statement. While the majority of ‘Betting on a Full Collapse’ is prone to the throaty, tortured vocals common to sludge, the vocals of “The Hollow” have a sinister edge that are unmatched on the remainder of the album. Again, synapses fire and, at times, the vocals and delivery of singer Chris Sherrod are reminiscent of Fudge Tunnel’s Alex Newport. “The Hollow” is a sprawling, heavy tune that is dominated by a murky, undulating groove.

With sludge as a starting point, Traitors Return to Earth incorporate stoner, doom, noise, and traces of psychedelia into a killer overall sound. ‘Betting on a Full Collapse’ may, at times, evoke moments of familiarity, but these moments are fleeting and ultimately far and few between. Fans of sludge and doom, particularly acts like EHG, Demonic Death Judge, Black Sabbath, and Sleep will find a well of destructively heavy riffs ready to flood their senses.



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