Review: Betrayal Within The Ranks – s/t [EP]

When I hear bands such as Betrayal Within The Ranks, I always whip out my mental checklist- floppy hair? Check. Irritating youthfulness? Check. The first tentative beginnings of tattoo sleeves Check. Swathed in ‘Drop Dead’ clothing? Check and check again. It’d be easy to dismiss this Stoke-on-Trent based troupe as just another college ‘Bring Me The Horizon’ tribute band – a vehicle to expand their sexual horizons while upping their scene credibility- were it not for their sickening amount of talent. With the average age of members landing around the 17/18 mark, they really do make you wish you picked up that guitar a little earlier in life.

Their debut EP, a neat little self-titled affair consisting of three tracks, is one of the most exciting offerings from a young, unsigned band that I’ve heard in a long time. In recent years, metalcore has become a byword for style over substance, with hairstyles often pulling in more comment than any musical releases. Hence- finding a genuinely exciting or compelling release is a rare thing indeed.

‘Sunsets’, the opening track on ‘Betrayal Within The Ranks’ EP, does not sound like the composition of teens- the opening beefy riffs, bowel-renching bassline and surprisingly controlled vocals would fit comfortably in any big name release. Although ‘Sunsets’ could be seen to be lightweight in structural terms, it certainly is a substantially impressive opener.

‘What Happened To Forever’ is my personal favourite from this small EP. It really is a showcase of the band’s versatility in the genre, and also, of vocalist Jay Wilko’s range. Wilko’s screams and bowel-juddering growls are certainly impressive, and, should he be able to replicate these vocal changes perfectly on a live platform, he’d certainly have the opportunity to be a crowd-pleasing, energetic frontman. The technical skills shown by the rest of the band in ‘What Happened To Forever?’ cannot be ignored. Joe Devine’s bass and (now ex-member) Lee Bowen’s drum lines are so rich and heavy, you’d feel as though they could move houses. The guitar work on the EP is equally as accomplished, with Tom Kidd’s blistering riffs punching through each track. Although constant talk of youth can be tiresome (trust me- I feel like I should be picking up my pension while listening to these guys), I cannot reiterate enough how talented and dedicated these guys are- they really are musically accomplished beyond their years. You’d have to be deaf, blind and dumb not to realise that this band could really make waves in metalcore circles.

The EP ends with ‘Skin of a Killer’, a frenzied track with a killer guitar-line that should belong on everyone’s ipod. ‘Skin of a Killer’ is made for the stage, and with each breakdown, you can find yourself envisaging a wall of death or brutal circlepit. ‘Skin…’ is by far the best structured track on the band’s EP, with each verse comfortably nestled between breakdowns or a momentary solo. Although simple, this method is surprisingly effective, and as the track fades out, you’re left salivating for more.

As metalcore bands are ten-a-penny nowadays, it can take a lot to set one apart from the others, but ‘Betrayal Within The Ranks’ seem to do it effortlessly. If they can stay focused and stick together without burning up in the inevitable pressure-cooker environment of a fast-moving young band, they could go very, very far. Jammy buggers.

3.5 high fives!