Album: Night Terrors – EP
If you claim you’ve never been truly terrorized by a nightmare, you’re a liar. We’ve all had them—horrors blacker than the deadest hours of the night, armed with the things that instill the purest form of paralysis. If you’re honest with yourself, you know just what I’m talking about—and you probably think you’ve seen the worst things this world (and your subconscious) can throw at you. You’re wrong. Traitors, the most furious group of Floridians the state has to offer, are back with their second studio album in under a year, aptly titled Night Terrors. On their second EP, Traitors replace entire songs of low, slow chugging with bouncy, bold grooves and catchy, creative vocal patterning—picking things up a notch or ten from even the fastest moments of The Hate Campaign. Offering a vastly-upgraded musical style when compared to their previous displays of downtuned, downtempo devastation, Night Terrors is the big brother to the things that go bump in the night—it is the thing even your nightmares have nightmares about.
Traitors’ The Hate Campaign featured a couple moments where the band collectively sped things up a touch—especially during the climax to the album’s title track. However, from the first seconds of “Phantasm,” it is immediately clear to the listener that Night Terrors is a presentation of Traitors unlike any version the listener has previously heard. While the band are still far from a technical juggernaut, “Phantasm” alone is proof that Traitors have embraced nu-metal (and even hip-hop, at points) as their leading influence, opting to spend a majority of each track grooving with fluid fretwork and comparatively fast-paced percussion in the context of their discography. Drummer and chief songwriter Stephen Arango has always been an entertaining, solid drummer; however Night Terrors sees him stepping up his game, leading the remainder of Traitors’ musicians on a bouncy, energetic romp through the quick-paced “Intruder” and into the more somber and introspective “Cold.” Arango’s excellent kick drum work and immense snare dominate the mix, giving the band a thick, raunchy foundation for the frantic riffs, grooves—and of course—chugs from guitarists Alan de la Torre and Mikey Ingram. Where de la Torre and Ingram have previously been content to chug until the listener gets a concussion, they now reserve their lowest notes for lurid, climactic breakdowns. “Intruder” and “Burnout” see them spending a majority of the time hitting the listener with crushing, yet energetic grooves—while “Dead in the Head” highlights Arango’s simple-yet-effective percussion and the sludgy tone from bassist Dave Moore. Moore spends a majority of his time coating Arango’s bass drum in thick muck, adding impact to each monstrous thud, however “Dead in the Head” is a subtle, short interlude that sees him dominating the mix. This doesn’t mean he can’t be heard throughout the remainder of the EP however—as “Cold” and “Sleep Disorder” both feature plenty of his grisly grooves alongside the frenzied fretwork from de la Torre and Ingram.
Just as Traitors’ musicianship and songwriting have outgrown their solid-yet-adolescent downtempo Deathcore sound, frontman Tyler Shelton has added even more vocal excellence to his already well-stocked repertoire of styles and sounds. Shelton hits low bellows that reach even deeper than his previous depths, while “Burnout” sees him working side-by-side with death metal legend Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder to shred the listener’s ears with screeching screams while Shelton inflicts blunt force trauma with surly, straightforward yells. Mirroring his vocal growth, Shelton’s patterning and lyrical content is, simply put, leagues beyond his previous work. While brief portions of Shelton’s verses have been catchy in the past, nearly his entire performance on Night Terrors is bound to stay suck in the listener’s head. True enough—he is still far from a lyrical mastermind—but his wordplay on “Sleep Disorder” is poignant and personal, seeing him step outside his previously established comfort zone. Likewise, the catchy belting at the introduction of “Intruder” seems straight out of an old-school hip-hop playbook—another testament to Shelton’s growing dynamism.
With a band that took the heavy music community by storm like Traitors did, it’s hard to not hold Night Terrors in constant comparison against their self-titled debut and The Hate Campaign. In the context of their discography, Night Terrors is an unbelievable transition that sees the band simultaneously maturing and improving. Even on its own, Night Terrors is a masterful foray into nu-metalcore with a violent, dissonant and downtuned twist. With catchy, crafty grooves interrupted by occasional riffing, sharp effects and piledriving breakdowns, Traitors’ newfound musicianship might just be enough to silence purists and skeptics of their previous releases; and Even if it doesn’t, it will certainly make them think twice and lend a careful ear. When it comes to low, tremendous vocal work, Shelton is a household name—and his dominion over the heavy music underground continues here. With entirely new styles and improved versions of his old ones, combined with infinitely more creative patterning and even more endurance, Shelton’s vocal element brings the entire release home, making it a unique venture into a genre that is rapidly becoming overcrowded.
Your floorboards creak—eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep. Paranoia is devouring the last shreds of your sanity, obliterating what the drugs and caffeine haven’t already desiccated. Night Terrors is that voice you hear when you’re seconds from sleep—the odd shift under your mattress when your eyelids droop—and more importantly, it is a remarkably successful change of pace for a band determined to outgrow the impressive crater they made in the world of aggressive, extreme music.
For Fans Of: Bodysnatcher, Rex, Genocide District, Feign
By: Connor Welsh