Artist: Every Hand Betrayed
Shit, you think to yourself, frantically fumbling with your keys. Start, come on, just fucking start. Your car, a slightly older-than-fashionable Impala, stalled out for the fiftieth time. Unlike the other forty nine times, however, this time, your car is stalled out straddling a railroad track, with the locomotive barreling down the tracks, only seconds away. Still fumbling with your keys, fighting frantically against time, the thought occurs to to you: fuck this, i’ll just bail. This isn’t worth my–. Your final idea is cut short as the train, closer than it appears, broadsides your car, casting it, and you, into oblivion. This was not unlike my first listen to Every Hand Betrayed’s debut full length, Kingless, as, before I had time to formulate a prediction, I was ambushed by dazzling, dynamic song structure, technically magnificent time changes and bone-busting brutality.
Unrelenting, unstoppable, spine-smashing heaviness. Few things can stand in the way of the locomotive, juggernaut that Every Hand Betrayed have crafted. Kingless, not unlike the rampaging engine from Denzel Washington’s Unstoppable, is a ravaging beast which, when in full-force, cannot be slowed down–let alone stopped. The album’s title track, “Kingless,” displays this right from the get go. Infused with a haunting lead guitar line and smooth, yet aggressive groove. The track kickstarts at a thousand miles per hour and only gets faster from there. Machine gun drums with a rich, heavy tone beat constantly throughout the track (and the album), and the guitars have absolutely no issue keeping up. Often times, while one guitar keeps a low, heavy-end chug constant in the background, the other will run circles around the song’s other elements with a ripping, shredding riff–showing off not only the band’s heaviness, but their technicality
While Kingless is wrought with truly fantastic heavy sections and grinding grooves, many of it’s highlights also include it’s technical sections. With blazing blast beats pulsing in the background, break-neck riffs and tedious time changes wreak havoc on the listener’s ears. “The Unmad Man,” despite the off-putting song title, features several technical highlights that would make The Red Shore proud and As Blood Runs Black look like toddlers. Another interesting facet of the album’s technicality comes in the form of Every Hand Betrayed’s penchant for the progressive. “Ozma,” the five-and-a-half minute musical journey exemplifies this, as, along with the inclusion of heavier elements, it changes tempo and style numerous times, demonstrating incredible dynamism.
Every Hand Betrayed waste no time building up or over-hyping themselves. The brief minute long introduction drops the listener at the very top of the explosive, action-packed roller coaster that is Kingless. Like any good roller coaster, it is packed with twists, turns, loops and drops (mostly of the bass variety). Also like any good amusement park ride, the album is not without it’s plateaus. These flat, streamlined segments are not without purpose: while they are at neither the guttural or sky-scraping extremes which the album frequents, it allows for the listener to develop a greater appetite for the oncoming musical onslaught. Each song seems to feature these moments of brief, albeit needed, rest to oscillate between twisting, writhing, stunning technicality and jaw-dropping heaviness the likes of which will give your chin rug-burn. In this manner, Every Hand Betrayed declare themselves Californian czars of dynamic and intelligent songwriting, packing dense material into short songs, but still allowing them to maintain their epic nature.
So while it might not have been the death you wanted, and perhaps not even the death you deserved, the funeral was touching and your friends and family wept. Meanwhile, Every Hand Betrayed, and their unstoppable juggernaut Kingless keeps chugging along, cleansing their path of every awe-inspired listener too stupified to just open their car door and run.
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism