REVIEW: Every Hand Betrayed – Forsaken [EP/2016]


Artist: Every Hand Betrayed 

Album: Forsaken – EP


Humans are capable of feeling an incredibly variety of emotions. Some of them are good—Hell, a lot of them are good—but the ones we know best are the ones that are the worst. We know anxiety, fear, anger, depression—all byproducts of our own experiences with others and with ourselves—but one that many people don’t know (at least not first-hand) is pure dejection. The feeling of not just being alone, but alone and left behind; the smothering, soul-sucking feeling of being completely Forsaken.

But Every Hand Betrayed know it: in fact it would appear they know it all too well. This punishing deathcore act from the Pacific Northwest combines dark, brooding and depressive lyrical themes and atmosphere with pure, raunchy hatred on their latest release, Forsaken. The very soundtrack of misanthropic malevolence, Forsaken is a comprehensively aggressive album that is more than just fast blast beats and beefy chugs—it is eerie and atmospheric while retaining a sharp, sinister edge, sure to cut cleanly through the skull of any heavy music enthusiast.

Imagine putting the bounce and groove of the PNW’s own Extortionist into a blender with a thick slab of Oceano’s meaty, malicious deathcore and sprinkle it all with a dash of nu metal—then slap on the lid and let it rip. You’d get a pitch-black, acrid sludge that would look and taste a whole lot like Forsaken sounds. Percussionist Trevor Richardson is absolutely terrifying behind his kit—both adept at crafting sturdy scaffolds of speedy blast beats and tremendous kick drum patterns while adding flashy, technically immaculate fills. “Rotten” is a ruthless example—with Richardson’s drumming leading the charge on one of the EP’s most fast-paced and furious tracks. Meanwhile, the catchy and insidiously groovy “Worthless” sees Richardson on a bouncy, bold rampage—working excellently with guitarists Kyle Smutny and Jayson Warren to drown the listener in carefully orchestrated dissonance. Smutny and Warren’s fretwork is intense—covering every one of Richardson’s patterns with riffs and grooves that are sharp enough to cut deeply into the listener’s flesh, yet blunt enough to bludgeon the listener into submission. “Filth” is one such example of the band’s razor-sharp misanthropy; as Warren and Smutny take turns carving riff after riff into the listener’s bare flesh. Meanwhile, “Worthless” and “Dethroned” are depressive, slow-burning tracks that sear an imprint into the listener’s mind. Here, Warren and Smutny take turns oscillating between haunting leads and horrendously heavy breakdowns—with Richardson’s drums rumbling like an arsenal in the background.

Where Every Hand Betrayed let loose with an instrumental canvas that sprawls from groove to grisly, lacerating precision, their vocal element is just as varied and diverse. Frontman Ian McAlister can be either pointed and fierce—proudly pronouncing each punishing syllable with soaring shrieks—or haunting and possessed. “Worthless” sees him at his most eerie, toggling on-and-off his half-spoken shouts—just as he does for his incredible pre-breakdown vocal cues in the infernal album-ended, “Dethroned.” However “Rotten” and “Filth” see him adhering to a more standard performance for his genre—easily roaming between low, rumbling roars and high, razor-sharp shrieks. McAlister is diverse and energetic, spending all of Forsaken showing off his endurance just as he shows off his lyrical prowess. While several sections of the EP seem “standard fare” for a deathcore release (“Filth” is guilty of this), songs like “Worthless” are a much more personal expose into his head and heart—just as “Dethroned” is an enchanting and riveting display of ruthless vocal and lyrical talent. McAlister roars boldly on all cylinders, giving Every Hand Betrayed more than enough catchy lines and blistering one-liners to appeal to lyrical scrutinists and mosh-a-holics alike.

Forsaken has been a long time in the making—and fans of Every Hand Betrayed have been waiting with baited breath for the band’s follow up to Kingless for some time. Where, at first, five songs may seem far too short, each song on Forsaken packs a deadly punch that is bound to silence skeptics before “Rotten” is even half-way done. With portions that are catchy and groovy sharply contrasting segments of punchy, belligerent brutality, Every Hand Betrayed have taken the best parts of their previous album and used them as a foundation for a new, incredible release. Brief and overdue, Every Hand Betrayed’s Forsaken is cold, hard evidence that the old adage “better late than never” is still as true as it ever was.



For Fans Of: Oceano, Vctms, Extortionist, Lorna Shore, Chelsea Grin

By: Connor Welsh