"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Betzefer - "Freedom To The Slave Makers" (CD)

Betzefer - "Freedom To The Slave Makers" CD cover image

"Freedom To The Slave Makers" track listing:

1. Best Seller (2:57)
2. Backstage Blues (5:06)
3. Feels So Right (3:57)
4. Diamond Director (3:53)
5. Nothing But Opinions (4:20)
6. Doomsday (4:11)
7. Empty Magazine (3:48)
8. Perfect Lie (5:09)
9. Song for the Alcoholic (3:12)
10. Heavensent (2:56)

Reviewed by on February 24, 2011

"...people who thought Sepultura had reached its peak with 'Roots' will find 'Freedom To The Slave Makers' to be appealing"

The members of Israel’s Betzefer must have spent countless hours cranking “Roots”-era Sepultura and Pantera as young men. It can be the only logical reason for the heavy groove influences on sophomore album “Freedom To The Slave Makers.” This would not have sounded out of place during that time period, snuck in right as nu-metal was at its apex. The vocals have the rap-ish delivery, the rhythm work is emphasized, and the riffs have a slamming groove underneath them. However, there is also harsh vocals, shredding leads, and a thrash break or two to keep the metal quotient at a respectable level.

There’s nothing worse than when a band teases something that they don’t follow-up on, as Betzefer does with the great opener “Best Seller.” It has the groove of the rest of the songs, but the vocals take on an evil shriek, along with a brief growling session and clean shouted vocals with a tone oddly similar to Snake of Voivod fame. The track is a heart-pumping beginning that signals positive signs for the remaining songs. Those signs aren’t completely acted upon though.

The shriek disappears just as soon as it came, as the shouts take over the album. The material sticks to a mid-tempo pace, as each song sticks with a tempered attitude. The quality fluctuates from solid to unoriginal dreck. A strong lead can’t save “Backstage Blues” from stumbling on a mediocre breakdown. “Perfect Lie” enters with a bang, but fades fast as the song plods on for five minutes. “Doomsday” and “Empty Magazine” redeem the album, the former an anthem for the live audiences and the latter slaying by means of a killer aggressive ending.

“Empty Magazine” is one of a select few that pushes the groove elements to the side and brings a speedy tempo in. “Song For The Alcoholic” is reminiscent of “Roots Bloody Roots” with its bouncy melodies before breaking open with an insane solo halfway through. The band saves the fastest song for last with closer “Heaven-Sent.” The harsh vocals return, and except for a hilarious tough-guy rant spliced in, “Heaven-Sent” is a pitch-perfect finish. These tunes show an angry side of Betzefer that isn’t exploited enough. For the most part, the groove is in control of the songwriting; not a bad thing, as the band does it well, but the most thrilling moments of “Freedom To The Slave Makers” are when they step away from the ordinary.

As it was mentioned earlier in the review, people who thought Sepultura had reached its peak with “Roots” will find “Freedom To The Slave Makers” to be appealing. It does have nu-metal tendencies, but so did “Roots,” and look how many metal fans worship that album. Groove metal is not exactly “tr00” or brutal, but when done right, it can be catchy as hell. Betzefer is able to get a few infectious tracks out of themselves, though staleness is never too far behind.

Highs: Solid guitar work, strong start and finish to the album, variety with the vocals

Lows: Nu-metal tendencies, not enough speedy moments to generate excitement, the lengthier songs stumble

Bottom line: A groove metal album for those who think "Far Beyond Driven" and "Chaos A.D" are the pinnacle of metal.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)