Never let geography keep you from your dream. If you want to be a cowboy then move to Texas, if you want to be a dictator then move to North Korea, and if you want to move to France to join a metalcore band, do it. That’s what Betraying The Martyrs frontman Aaron Matts did.
While working as a welder in a metal factory, with music a mere hobby, Aaron met BTM while they were touring England. When their former singer Eddie Czaicki left in 2010, Aaron took the call and moved to France to join the ranks, although he admits that it took a while to get the hang of the national etiquette…
“In France, you kiss girls if you know them or not, but you only kiss a dude if he’s your mate. I didn’t know that so I was kissing everyone!” he laughs.
Despite being so well known for kissing that full-on tonsil hockey is commonly regarded as a French invention, our cross-Channel neighbours are nowhere near as famous for their metal scene (and yes, we do know that Gojira exist).
“When the first album came out, our label put us on tours non-stop so it didn’t really matter where we’re from,” Aaron says. “We’re a band from France but the sound takes influences from all the bands we’ve toured with too, and we’re proud to have been influenced by them.”
Pleasingly, new album Phantom appears to have been influenced by tower block-sized beatdowns, shit-kicking polyrhythmic drums and even pop music. We’re not talking the polarising crossover splurge of Issues here, but there’s an undeniable pop sensibility to the melodies and choruses that elevate the deathcore craziness above the level of their increasingly timid peers. This is especially true of Let It Go – an ingenious cover of that song from Disney’s animated box office behemoth Frozen…
“Our label suggested it,” Aaron says. “The song had been winning Oscars, it’s everywhere and it’s got a solid melody. It might scare off some old-school metal fans but I think it’s gonna bring in younger fans. That song kept me awake for days… those melodies were stuck in my head!”
Perhaps this is the future of metalcore? In a scene that’s steadily become overpopulated and stagnant, bands like Betraying The Martyrs are trying to break the mould and somehow attain a credible shelf life.
“Bands don’t last as long as they used to now. Bands come in and they’ll be poppin’ for a year and then boom, they’re gone!” Aaron admits knowingly, but does he resent being pitched against so many less adventurous bands?
“Everyone is making lyric videos, everything is easy nowadays,” he shrugs. “All of that stuff has hindered the scene in some ways but now we’re getting recognised in other countries and stuff, so it would be hypocritical to say I hate the way things are. I’m in a band and I love it. Why wouldn’t I want everyone to feel the same?”
Phantom is out now via Sumerian Records