Yet another melodic death metal release on my plate, the Coloradan quartet featuring Paul Anop (guitars, vocals), Joe Johnson (guitars), Marcus Corich (bass), Haakon Sjoegren (drums), is actually quite a genre hopper on their 4th (after the eponymous²⁰¹⁶, “Eyes Of Blue Light”²⁰¹⁸ and “The Doomed City”²⁰¹⁹ with a couple of EPs in between) full length “Betrayal” churned out in the 9th year of their existence. You’ll find here copious melodeath for sure with the characteristic riffing, but it’s spiked with death/doom (title track, Breathe Evil), black (Don’t Stop For Death), thrash (If You Can Count) and groove metal (Out To The Sand). Clearly, they were aiming for innovation such as backwards guitar, Marcus using a screwdriver on a bass track and harmonized whammy leads with the addition of guitar solos from vocalist/guitarist Paul Anop and deeper vocals from bassist Marcus Corich to complement Anop’s signature rasp, to quote the promo comment from Johnson. All of that, plus the interesting concept inspired by the ancient Greek war story of Anabasis about a small group betrayed and isolated in dangerous enemy territory who must fight their way back home with, very interestingly, references to face offs among New York City, Bronx Van Cortland Park gangs: Jones Street, Furies and Turnbull ACs which are compared with an assembly of 13 demons it calls by their names none of which I have the desire or stupidity to quote here (Breathe Evil). Producer David Castillo (Carcass, Kreator, Katatonia) is a great fit, too, really getting where Necropanther comes from, what it’s all about and where it’s going.

The standouts are not immediate, as the opener “One And Only” is effective but not particularly memorable, but the Triviumic “Covenant” finally breathes in some much needed melody before the lyrically horrifying and musically fantastic slow burner (ballad?) “Breathe Evil” recalling The Black Dahlia Murder at their best and most infamous. The remaining tracks of the first half are all very good but it’s the excellent Arch Enemish “Wanderers” which opens the second half that really shows off the songwriting chops Necropanther possesses although it also exposes the inconsistent repetition of the hooks by it surprisingly actually uniquelly using that to their advantage, something sometimes lacking in other tracks, the Emperoric “Furies” a good example, which is the major reason for the final score. Of note are, though, definitely the NecroPanteric (you’ll get it when you hear it) groovy “Out To The Sand” with a nod to “Leviathan” Mastodon and the Behemoth meets Morbid Angel at Lamb Of God’s crib with My Dying Bride bringing the booze stylings of the closing title track, but I must admit that the two halves of the album are equal in the very good quality, so, again, thus the score.

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