After more carefully plotting out the direction of its last two albums, France’s Betraying the Martyrs “really didn’t set out to do anything” on its new set, Rapture, according to frontman Aaron Matts. And the results can be heard in an exclusive teaser for the metalcore sextet’s fourth full-length via Billboard today (Sept. 12).
“It kind of goes back to the first album [2011’s Breathe in Life], where we were just doing it and kind of making music and seeing what happened,” Matts tells Billboard. That, he adds, was not the case on 2014’s Phantom and 2017’s The Resilient. “On those records, there were some preconceptions about what they should [be], and we tried to fit into that,” he notes. “This album, we tried to take it back to the roots and do what came naturally and make the best album we could possibly make with what we had.”
The British-born Matts certainly had plenty to draw from for Rapture, which arrives Sept. 13 on Sumerian Records. “The album does really have dark subject matter,” he acknowledges, citing deaths and “family issues” as source material. “I was going through a lot of depression and anxiety, just like everyone seems to be at this point in time,” he explains. “I try to keep it vague so people can connect and relate to the subject matter. I tried to ask the other guys what they had on their minds and write things that felt close to all our hearts, personally. It just came together naturally and very organically. I think that reflects in the music.”
Betraying the Martyrs primarily wrote Rapture on a farm owned by drummer Boris Le Gal’s cousin near Clisson, France, with the instrumental tracks recorded at Babylon Studios in the Czech Republic and Dangelosound Studio in Paris, while Matts finished his vocals with Justin Hill at Whitehouse Studios in Reading, England. The circumstances allowed Matts to do some clean singing for the first time ever, sharing that province with keyboardist Victor Guillet.
“We built our own studio in a barn on the farm and a vocal studio inside there to record my pre-production vocals,” he says. “It was a lot easier to perform without worrying if there’s a producer there, so I was able to try out some things I otherwise would’ve been more hesitant to try. And then when we got to London, Justin Hill was a huge factor in getting those clean vocals out of me.”
Betraying the Martyrs also is introducing new guitarist Steeves Hostin, who joined last year to replace longtime member Lucas D’Angelo. “Lucas was a huge factor in the band,” says Matts. “He brought a very positive energy to the band and also had a lot of knowledge for writing and producing his own demos. I was really upset to see him go, but Steeves is a beautiful guy and a nice person with great musical knowledge himself. He’s technically very advanced in his guitar playing, and the impact he had on the album is huge, so it was a good move.” Fans will get a chance to see that starting Sept. 14, when Betraying the Martyrs kicks off a European tour at home in Paris, with Asia and the United States on tap for 2020.
“I’ve always considered the band to be global,” says Matts. “We got signed pretty quickly, and the first professional tour we did was in the United States. Since then, we’ve been touring every continent you can think of. We try to give each market our full attention and play for everyone we can but not burn ourselves out too much. We’re lucky we love doing this so much.”
Listen to the sampler from Rapture below: