Review : THESE ARE THEY – "Disposing of Betrayers"

These Are TheyDisposing of Betrayers
Release Date: 2010Sep14 (US)
Label: The End Records / Unruly Sounds
Rating: 4/5

Chicago’s These Are They break their cycle of releases that begin with the word “who”, which makes me wonder if the original title for this album was Who Dispose of Betrayers. Best to shed gimmicks, though, and for their second full-length, it looks like TAT not only did that, but focused on their strengths to create one gruesome American death metal monster.

By exclusively straying from the fantastic, one finds the most frightening monsters in the annals of history. Disposing of Betrayers draws inspiration from the events surrounding the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929, at the height of “The Noble Experiment” in the United States. During the Prohibition era, Bugs Moran warred with Al Capone for control of alcohol distribution. Throughout the liner notes, [near as I can tell] real-life newspaper excerpts are printed alongside original lyrics that magnify the devastation. And speaking of which, TAT actually cover their Windy City brethren in Devastation on “Cranial Hemorrhage” (featuring guitarist Erv Brautigam and vocalist Duane Rasmussen), which is a much better fit on the album than Soundgarden‘s “4th of July” was on Who Linger.

Disposing of Betrayers is tighter and better arranged than its predecessor as well—with the strongest tracks at the beginning, middle and end. “The Massacre” catalyzes the brutal downward spiral, highlighting the only survivor when police arrived: Frank Gusenberg (he died soon after, from 14 gunshot wounds); “No Angels to Guide You” continues with a retaliatory tale, summarizing the death of another gang leader; and the title track amplifies the story further, as “hands are tied, leg bones are crushed” of no less than forty victims, who are thrown into the icy December waters of Lake Michigan.

They actually approach the subject from different perspectives, too. “By Phaeton’s Design” is a chilling account of a beating/kidnapping/murder that pays particular attention to the very human emotions of a doomed mobster and “Evening Widows” calls attention to the women on the periphery. Both of these songs have nice bass presence from Wiley Wells, who begins the album’s ominous conclusion with eerie keyboard effects. This is also where vocalist Paul Kuhr shifts from his low growl into slightly higher pitch, sounding especially sinister, and co-founder Steve Nicholson unleashes one of his most understated, yet evocative, solos on the album.

It’s always good to see bands on the right path. The past few years, These Are They showed promise apart from their original project, Novembers Doom, but still seemed to be searching for their niche. Consider it found.

FCC: 6
Try 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9

01. The Massacre
02. Behind The Door
03. The Sins Of My Brothers
04. By Phaeton’s Design
05. No Angels To Catch You
06. Cranial Hemorrhage (Devastation cover)
07. La Mano Nera
08. Evening Widows
09. Disposal Of Betrayers

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