Betraying The Martyrs have been making waves in the metalcore scene for some time now through their symphonic take on the genre, but their latest offering, Rapture, is what they call the “ultimate” album for fans.
A stronger and more cohesive effort than their previous records, their fourth full-length finds them finally settling into a sound that’s entirely their own. Vocalist Aaron Matts says the album turned into their strongest effort yet due to the no-rules approach they took this time around.
“We’re getting a bit older, and we know what we want out of our music, so we wrote it the way that we wanted it to sound, and the way it came together felt so much more organic,” he explains. “The whole process just felt so natural and unfolded really easily. We put a lot of effort in but also just let it happen how it did, so I feel it’s just so different from the other records.”
Matts took a more direct approach with his lyrics on Rapture, tackling personal issues with mental health head-on. Songs such as “Parasite” and “Monster” address his struggles while remaining vague for listeners to find their own perspectives in the music. The vocalist says his decision to be more honest in his writing boils down to maturing as an individual and with his band as well as a stronger societal view on the topic.
“I feel like I only have a certain amount of passion that I can put into music, and to do so, there’s some things that I really want to sing about and just get it all out because I find you have less barriers as you get older,” he shares. “I also wanted the music to be relatable, especially now [because] these days people are finding it easier to open up about mental health issues. I thought it would be a good time to make something people could actually relate to or get inspired by to get better in a sense.”
While a more open dialogue between the band and their fans is meaningful, Matts also finds himself reaping the rewards of moving forward and maturing. As he’s grown over the past couple of years, he’s seen the benefits of discussing his problems with people useful for his own mental health issues.
“I definitely find it beneficial not only with having people listen to it and opening up conversations, but you need to digest your own problems when you’ve got them out there,” he says. “I don’t feel like I need to keep any of the things I write about secret from anybody.”
Beyond a shift in the lyrics, the French metalcore act had a lineup change that altered the dynamic of their music. After guitarist Lucas D’Angelo left in 2018, they recruited Steeves Hostin whom Matts says introduced a more technical aspect to their music. He further explains the guitarists both had similar styles, but Hostin brought a fresh perspective to the group, resulting in a more cohesive sound.
“The way he writes is a little bit different,” he says. “Although Lucas is a brilliant guitar player, Steeves is technically more advanced and definitely opened up more doors and possibilities in where our music can go. He also has a very good understanding of how sometimes you need to turn down a song in order for it to be more digestible to make it work as a whole.”
Despite the new album coming out better than they anticipated, their touring cycle has been the opposite. On the band’s first-ever North American headline tour, their van caught fire after a show in Los Angeles, forcing them to cancel the remaining dates. Matts says the entire experience unfolded rather quickly, leaving them pretty shaken up.
“We got kicked out of the venue really quickly and were forced out of the parking spot fast too, so we just loaded everything in as fast as we could,” Matts reveals. “I had no idea what was going on, and no one was really moving quickly because we didn’t think about where the smoke and the smell was coming from. Everyone stepped out in our underwear because we just got out of bed and realized flames were just bellowing out of the trailer door.”
Luckily, no one was hurt during the accident, but it could’ve turned out much worse. Some truck drivers passing by managed to help the situation, and their driver prevented it from becoming catastrophic by retrieving a jerry can full of gasoline from the back before the vehicle caught fire.
“With each second that goes by, you realize another thing that’s burning in there,” he says. “Luckily, there were a couple of truckers driving by, and they stopped. One had a concrete truck with a hose connected to [it] and put the fire out. Our driver Daniel Johnson was really incredible though.”
With a vast range of bands offering their condolences and pushing the story out into the world, their GoFundMe page took off and aided their financial situation. Fan support came in droves and helped the band grapple with the hefty task of getting back on their feet.
“It could have been a lot worse,” he resigns. “It allowed us to see just how much the fans care, though. I would never imagine people would be willing to give quite a high sum of money just to help us out, and it really gave us the motivation to carry on and make it happen.”
Before their tour accident, the band had much better luck through a fantastic set of shows around China. They’re releasing a mini-doc about their journey and how metal has become an international language that allows them to connect to people wherever they go.
“It’s great to have those kinds of memories put together in such an elegant way,” he says. “Because once this is all said and done in maybe 10 or 20 years, I can look back on it and show my kids all of that stuff. We’ve been in it for some time now and just realized that it brings so much more stress into what you’re thinking or what others are thinking when you think about getting famous.
“If you worry about all of this stuff, you just don’t take it in, and you lose sleep,” he says. “You’re just not having a good time, and I just want to concentrate on what we’re doing and take it in to make memories.”
Rapture drops Sept. 13 via Sumerian Records, and you can preorder it here. Check out the exclusive documentary with Betraying The Martyrs below.