Album Review: Betrayal – “Disorder Remains” 9/10 (death metal)

Written by John Angel

BetrayalDisorder Remains
Death metal from Aschaffenburg, Germany
Releases April 16, 2021
via Rising Nemesis Records

Today I’ve got a super awesome death metal record out of Bavaria to share with y’all. I’ve got a lot to say about it so I’ll dispense with the intro and get right into why everyone should listen to the new record from Betrayal, Disorder Remains.

Formed back in 2005 in Aschaffenburg, Germany, Betrayal has had a bit of a slow start as a band. They issued an EP called Of Lust and Loss in 2007 before experiencing a number of lineup changes. Betrayal’s debut LP, Infinite Circles, wouldn’t come until 2016, but marked a new beginning for the group with Alex Burkl on guitar/vocals and Phil Valenta on bass joining founding drummer Manuel Komander. Lead guitarist Basti Kraus was the last member of the current lineup to join in 2019 and this incarnation of Betrayal has put together one hell of a modern death metal record in Disorder Remains. Drawing on many different strains of death metal, the group has constructed a well-written album that delivers on red meat for the metal faithful and keeps the interest of nerdier listeners throughout its runtime. We’ve got riffs that pummel the listener with brutal grooves for the headbangers such as the outro riff from “Insanity”, blast beats paired with tremolo picked chords for fans of the kvlt in “Greed and Oblivion”, and sections of shifting rhythmic meters in lead single “War” for all the prog nerds. Disorder Remains has memorable riffs, guitar solos for days, and even a cowbell!! Let’s dive in!

One thing I love about this record is how they wear their classic rock influences on their sleeve. Pretty much every track has something that you can trace back to rock bands of yesteryear, or dare I say, the blues. Take “War” for instance. The intro riff features a prominent #9 chord and for everyone who isn’t a classic rock or music theory nerd, that’s the chord Jimi Hendrix famously uses in the verses of “Purple Haze”. “Ghost of Mind” has some tasty runs down the blues scale that you could drop in near any solo over nearly any genre and it’s gonna sound awesome. “Lost Promises” has some blues-inflected moments in the riff for its bridge section and the rhythm guitar behind the guitar solo plays with switching between the minor and major third on the tonic chord. That sentence is jargony but trust me, it’s blues as fuck. Shit, there’s even a cowbell for the solo section in “The Manifest”, and the solo itself is full of tasty rock/blues language. My car in high school only had a radio and the most tolerable station was the classic rock station (love y’all Rock 92) so I really appreciate the appeal of a death metal record like this to someone like me who really grew up on classic rock. 

I feel like the phrase “memorable riffs” gets thrown around a lot these days when talking about death metal records. I’ve seen some albums that really lean into the rough, cavernous production qualities of OSDM referred to as memorable but I don’t understand how a riff can be memorable if you can’t really hear it in detail in the first place. Maybe I’m having an old-man-yells-at-clouds moment. But I can confidently say that Disorder Remains is chock full of riffs that are catchy and memorable. I’ve caught myself singing them over the past couple days. Dah-diguh-dah-diguh-daheeyah-diguh-daaaaah-duh-duh-duh!! The most memorable riff on the record for me is the main one from the title track. My favorite band is Between the Buried and Me and the riff in question, from the track “Disorder Remains”, is basically a heavy version of the clean section at the 2:00 mark of “Sun of Nothing” from BTBAM’s breakout record Colors. No clue if this was an intentional decision on the part of Betrayal but I’m a fan and think it would be cool if more bands quoted material from their biggest influences.

Now, let’s talk about the guitar solos. Lead guitarist Basti Kraus joined up in January 2019 and has really left his mark on the sound of the band through his amazing lead work. Almost every track has a guitar solo and they all rule. One of the reasons the solos rule so hard is that they utilize a wide variety of styles and musical language. We’ve got the aforementioned blues-inflected lead playing on “The Manifest”. There’s thrashy shredfests such as the solo on “Devouring Nothingness”. “Disorder Remains” has enough sweep picking in its solo to make The Human Abstract blush. In addition to their stylistic variety Betrayal backs up the high flying guitar fireworks with interesting and dramatic multipart forms for the Kraus to stretch out over. A “song-within-a-song” if you will. One of my favorites is from “Dooming Diversion”. A melodic section starts around the 1:30 and builds into the entrance of the soaring guitar solo at 1:57. It’s joined by a second, harmonizing guitar and they tastefully develop the motive from the opening of the solo, gradually climbing to a climax that drops into a shredfest over a thrash riff from the rest of the band. Lastly, we get a shift in tonal center in the rhythm section and some Kirk Hammet-esque licks (played better than he ever did) before landing on the final chorus.

Not to be outdone by the fleet-fingered guitarists of Betrayal, Manuel Komander puts on a clinic behind the drum kit. Like any death metal drummer worth their salt, Manuel plays super fast, fitting an insane amount of notes into any given amount of musical time. He also showcases the attention to detail that you so often find in elite drummers. He follows all the most intricate rhythms from the guitarists on the kick drum with his feet, fills up space with a variety of timbres and accents in the cymbals, and picks up all the important rhythmic patterns from the guitar riffs and vocals. I think he really channels peak Chris Adler from the mid 2000’s when Lamb of God was on its meteoric rise. 

Disorder Remains is one of the best records I’ve heard this year. I think it will make a strong showing in AOTY lists this year and it will be well deserved. Betrayal have delivered a crushing slab of varied, interesting, and memorable death metal that showcases their strong songwriting chops and technical proficiency. I certainly hope we don’t have to wait another five years for a the next Betrayal record. Disorder Remains drops April 16 via Rising Nemesis Records and y’all do not want to sleep on this one!


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