Album: Anger Issues – EP
Among the hardest aspects of living with a mental imbalance is the induced anxiety by never knowing when that imbalance might rear its ugly head. It’s the tedious attention you pay to your own mood every day—the effort you make to drown out the innate responses your body has to stress on an hourly basis—that truly wear on you. The struggle to live as you, but not the you that society abhors.
The struggle you endure every day to keep from lashing out.
In a way, living with a hostile demeanor, a disruptive mood disorder, an endorphin imbalance—all of the above—present with their own struggle akin to the above, and with the unrestrained, ruthless nature of their 2018 (and comeback) EP, it would seem Furious Floridian bringers of the heavy, Traitors, know it all too well. The sound of a weary, brittle and stressed mind pushed past its breaking point, Anger Issues is a volatile and explosive series of skull-smashing swings taken towards the world at large, bolstering their impressive discography doing, in a way, the same thing they’ve been doing—taking their nearly trademarked style of lurid, hyperdissonant, low-and-slow brutality and expanding it, adding influences from across the heavy music spectrum. Anger Issues feels like a mature continuation of Mental State in points, where in others it clearly is its own entity, throwing back to tremendous brutality that the late 2010s seem to have all but forgotten.
The takeaway? Traitors are back, as if they ever really left, and dare I say, better than ever.
I’ll get straight to the point–Anger Issues is a little lighter on the overt nu-influence that was abundant throughout Mental State: take that however you like. To say that the group eased up on the nu-metal flow and vibe from their previous full length in favor of regression, however, is pure folly—as Traitors’ latest effort is a simultaneously intricate and primal display of gut-busting rage. Songwriter and percussionist Stephen Arango—teaming up with the infamous Jesse Kirkbride on bass and veteran guitarist Alan De La Torre—have captured the bitterness that made the group’s early works so intriguing, all while maintaining a contemporary, driving and purposeful sense of energy. From the onset of “Lashing Out,” and even in the punchy, infernal introductory track, Arango’s drumming sees him doing what he does best: a wrought-iron backbone of bold, solid drumming with just enough flair and panache to keep the listener’s attention. Arango does this best on the second single, “R.I.P.,” where his quick fills add pep between the chunky, steamrolling bass and De La Torre’s deep, explosive fretwork. This dynamic slows down a little at points–“Blatant Disrespect” being chief among them—to beat the listener into a bloody pulp with breakdowns and fight-inducing riffs aplenty—while “Medicine” is a step In the more energetic direction, as Arango’s percussion sets a more pummeling tempo, urging Kirkbride’s bass and De La Torre’s guitar to keep things moving without sacrificing density and aggression. Anger Issues is a dynamic release—certainly the most dynamic EP Traitors has issued thus far—but it does an excellent job of giving fans of the band’s sprawling discography something to love. With tracks like the introduction and interlude (which don’t skimp on heavy-as-hell content) and “Blatant Disrespect” to appease the band’s early days and others–“Medicine” especially—to satiate the lust for Night Terrors era Traitors, Anger Issues uses a variety of devious and brilliant musical tactics to capture rage and aggression in its many forms.
One of the other major songwriting forces behind the mayhem that is Traitors—and the very essence of what it is to truly be a frontman—Tyler Shelton’s voice returns as powerful as ever, steering song after song of misanthropic aggression right into the listener’s ears. From “Lashing Out,” through the catchy “Blatant Disrespect” and all the way to the last seconds of “Medicine,” Shelton’s voice remains ruthless, relying on visceral, gritty low bellows and ferocious mid-range yells that hit harder than a freight train. A personal favorite, “Blatant Disrespect” sees a series of creative throwbacks to older Traitors material (as Shelton is wont to do) all while infusing it with a rejuvenated vigor. Then, “Medicine,” and “R.I.P.” Serve as two more immense entries in his prolific repertoire of hard-hitting anthems, showing more refined, creative and primal lyricism with vocal prowess that sees him readily reclaim his place amid many of the most talked-about vocalists out there. Anger Issues is Shelton perhaps, ironically, not as his angriest, but certainly at his most raw, visceral, gritty and primal—if it isn’t apparent from “Blatant Disrespect,” it’ll damn sure be evident by the time the listener makes it through “Medicine.”
Traitors are still heavy. They aren’t an overtly technical band, they don’t rely on uplifting melody or a soft/heavy dynamic—or really any other time-honored gimmick besides pure, frothing, fulminant hate. That’s what they’ve been about since day one, and it’s what they’re like on Anger Issues, their powerful return to the forefront of heavy music. Seeing the band overseas and across the country in the coming months, Anger Issues is an unstoppable release in their collection of consistently strong and never-stagnant release—one that will likely earn a spot right near the top of the band’s discography…for the time being, at least.
For Fans Of: Dealey Plaza, Bodysnatcher, SPITE, Filth
By: Connor Welsh