Betraeus + Spires – The Limelight, Belfast – Saturday 24 March 2012

It’s the hottest day of the year, with the sun splitting the trees and the local spides have already taken up residence in the local park with their bottles of (still relatively cheap) white cider and Buckie… so, what is any self-respecting metaller doing? Well, we’re in a darkened club checking out the latest clutch of bands to have taken the chance of crossing the Irish Sea to try and impress us with their own brand of metal…

Today, it’s the turn of two outfits from jolly old Manchester to attract us out of the sunshine and into the mosh pit…

First up, Spires, who play progressive metal with heavy doom touches, characterised by highly technical guitar work over pounding but equally complex rhythms, an effective interaction between death growls and clean vocals, with prolonged and efficient instrumental passages.

They’re the perfect opening for Betraeus and their brand of hard-hitting technical metal mixed with some sublime jazzy progressive thrash. Again, the band have the right mix of dirty, death growls and clean vocals, which combine perfectly with the same combination on guitars. Highlights include the frenetic ‘Frustration’; ‘Locust’, with its subtle bass intro leading into a brutal breakdown riff, which in turn is full of contrasts, going into a very psychedelic interlude before returning to Opeth-like progressionism; the progressive death metal of ‘Descend Into Death’, with its very Portnoy-esque drumming; and ‘Towards The Sun’, the title track of their current EP, which opens in a volley of tapping and combines light and dark to excellent effect.

One of the main faults of bands working in the ‘progressive metal’ sub-genre is their failure to balance their vocal performances with the talent of their backing musicians: Betraeus haven’t got it quite right, but what they do, they do well and they are far ahead of much of their competition in this regard. Certainly, a young band to watch…

Betraeus playing the following dates with Scar Symmetry, Xerath and Death Deals:

Wednesday May 9 – Islington 02 Academy 2
Thursday May 10 – Manchester Moho
Friday May 11 – Bristol 02 Academy 2

Band Links:

About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff