EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Traitors – The Hate Campaign [2015]


Artist: Traitors

Album: The Hate Campaign


In merely a year, The Hate Campaign has swept across not just America, but cities and countries around the world. What began in small towns and suburbs surrounding the Floridian city of Ft. Meyers has grown exponentially, flooding entire nations in dissonant upheaval, turning entire governments upside down and annihilating yesterday’s America’s rigid agendas and legal architecture. What began as a thought is now a movement, reshaping the world through the actions of heavy music fans around the globe. It’s masters? None other than Traitors, the Titans of American downtempo deathcore. Following their furious debut EP and sinister single “Malignant,” the band is back with their magnum opus, appropriately titled The Hate Campaign. Traitors’ debut full length album finds the band at the frontlines of the war between hyper-heavy downtempo deathcore and straightforward, knuckle-bruising beatdown–a war fought between slow, crushing percussion and riff-tinted chugs, coming together in a glorious revolution that is sure to sweep the top-ten lists of 2015’s heavy offerings: The Hate Campaign. 

Small towns across America smoldered under the snail’s-pace brutality that the early days of Traitors’ reign provided. Their EP was a lesson in slow, sizzling heaviness; the tortoise catching up to the hare and skinning it alive. However, as The Hate Campaign truly took shape and began to blanket the globe, a different approach to awesomely aggressive instrumentation was needed–the approach found within Traitors’ debut full length. In short, the band neither abandon their previous penchant for precarious, painstaking down-tempo nor do they continue along the same downward (or downtempo) spiral–they march to an entirely different drum: that of percussionist and primary songwriter Stephen Arango. If a revolution requires a mastermind, then The Hate Campaign and its scalding display of brutish aggression is Arango’s brainchild. Arango’s percussion serves a perfect purpose in setting the pace for the rest of Traitors’ instrumentation. At times–like the incredible conclusion to “Disappoint”–it is slow and heavy enough to feel like a war drum fitting for Tolkien’s orcs. Other times, like the bouncy “Buried Alive,” or the interlude “Overthrown,” his percussion hurries the band along, serving as a surreal breeding ground for infectious grooves, birthed by bassist Dave Moore. Moore is a madman, making the band’s already notoriously thick and meaty tone that much more intense, adding extra oomph to the pulverizing breakdowns within “The Great Campaign” and serving as a strong spine for the groovy tendencies of “A Common Demon.” While Arango and Moore provide subtle differences for the listener to catch on to in comparison to Traitors’ debut, the most explicit shift in song structure and instrumentation comes from guitarists Alan de la Torre and Mikey Ingram. Examples of de la Torre and Ingram’s dastardly deviation from the band’s debut EP are at their peak throughout “A Common Demon” and “Buried Alive,” the latter of which containing a series of subtle grooves and relentless riffs that break right through the listener’s skull to invade their brain–if they don’t slither in through their ears first. Arango’s incredible ability to write and structure all things heavy, when combined with Traitors’ renovated musical dynamic is exactly the vector needed to give The Hate Campaign the speed and severity it needs to take over the minds of the heavy music-loving masses.

It takes more than energy and diversity to launch a New World Order–The Hate Campaign is a strong movement, but without direction and focus, it would soon crumble and relegate itself to stagnancy. Enter Tyler Shelton, Traitors’ resident prophet of hatred, bitterness and strife. Shelton is to downtempo deathcore what Dan Watson is to the genre’s more technical and intense brother–legendary; and Shelton’s efforts on The Hate Campaign are no different. Low, grisly and guttural, Shelton’s vocals provide a lens through which the ultra-dissonant insanity that is Traitors’ musicianship find focus. His catchy, barbaric shouts throughout “The Great Campaign” work together with Arango’s percussive assault and de la Torre and Ingram’s crushing chugs to send the listener reeling out of their seat. However, Shelton is more than a mere accessory that dictates the flow of Moore’s meaty bass or de la Torre’s destructive chugging.  Shelton is the true voice of the heavy music revolution that Traitors are spearheading. “Disappoint” and “Drown” serve as great examples; where Shelton’s lyrical content takes a turn for the morbidly introspective, exploring the bowels of his mind with grotesque, filth-laden low bellows that are grimy enough to rot the listener’s ears clean off. Shelton’s visceral performance is the perfect analog to his lyrical intimacy; as his growls and shouts flow as smoothly into one another as The Hate Campaign flows from punishingly personal to aggressively anthemic.

It’s no wonder The Hate Campaign craftily and cunningly swept the earth over, jumping from continent to continent like a plague. Built upon fluid songwriting and a newfound energy, lead by vast, visceral vocals and defined by top-notch production, Traitors’ The Hate Campaign is all the raunchy heaviness of their EP with an immersive and driving dynamic that will draw in new fans and old skeptics alike. Arango and Moore’s tight-knit foundation serves as a strong scaffold for Ingram and de la Torre to build chapels of crushing heaviness from–all so Shelton has an altar of bitterness and disgust from which to preach. With Arango’s awe-inspiring ability to structure idyllic archetypes of aggressive majesty and Shelton’s skin-peeling vocal prowess, there is no goal out of Traitors’ reach. If you were addicted to the band’s self-titled EP, you will find entire days of solace in the bone-busting heaviness in “Disappoint” and “Dissociated.” However, if the band’s previous efforts struck you as monotonous and dull, look no further than the infectious “Buried Alive” or the immense “The Perfect Enemy.” The Hate Campaign is a collection of diverse-yet-destructive downtempo deathcore masterpieces joined by convincing interludes (which aren’t what the listener might expect; even as “Curfew” claims “this is not a test,” the listener WILL indeed be tested to keep themselves from turning on the television and expecting tragedy). This album is a whole new Traitors–not just a steamrolling supply of endless chugs, but an unstoppable machine fueled by hate and designed to capture the throne of downtempo deathcore sovereignty.

The Hate Campaign is a culling for heavy music–and heavy musicians–worldwide. It is a genocidal cleansing of an overcrowded genre filled with the uninspired and uncaring. Traitors are driven by a passion for punishing music and a desire to establish a new world order where neither men, nor gods are the leaders—rather, humanity bows to heaviness, making these furious Floridians deities of destruction via their mastery of down-tempo deathcore.



For Fans Of: Beacons, Falsifier, REX, Feign, Bodysnatcher, Black Tongue

By: Connor Welsh