Review: “Guided” by Confessions of a Traitor

After a pair of EPs in 2014’s “Seasons” and 2016’s “Illuminate”, Londoners Confessions of a Traitor are well known on the UK Underground Metal Scene with a reputation for an impressive live show, something which we witnessed as they performed at the final farewell tour show from Carcer City which was on their stomping ground. For their full debut they entered the studio Jigsaw Audio with Myroslav Borys in Derby and entrusted him with not only the recording but also the mixing and mastering. Vocalist Stephen MacConville, guitarist duo Jack Darnell and Jacob Brand, bassist Tony Nagle and drummer  Sebastian Olrog have worked hard on their craft to get to this point and there is the feeling going into this review that now should be the bands time. Now should be when it all comes together and it all pays off. No pressure then…

…with a spoken word shifting to a scream MacConville brings the album in with the roar of “with this heart of a Lion I have no fear” over breakdowns galore as “Kansas” sets a modern Metalcore tone and brings the album to life. If that isn’t a wake up call to shake off the days ills and get into the pit, then “Twelve” is the band not only pulling up the anchor but swinging it around before launching it like a caber. A battering ram of pummelling rhythms and Metalcore bounce accompanies MacConville screaming about feeling confined and wanting to break the shackles in a moment of clarity. Thought provoking after the headbanging has stopped it’s a twelve gauge blast of a track. “Design Me” adds some interesting leads which are placed into the mix rather than floating on top and build the atmospheric rather than steal the show. An ambient melodic break with some jackhammer footwork which other bands would have gone with programming for, is a temporary cage for the beast as the final breakdown brings the home the bacon. Taking things in a groove laiden direction “A Truthful Heart” builds on the earlier tracks with thoughts of rebuilding confidence and escaping the prisons the mind creates. It’s a sentiment connects with anyone who not only feels oppression in their life but also who struggles with Mental Health. The subtly built platforms of riffs and sonic layering make for fine jumping points for the bands breakdowns, something which they are masters of.

Single “Myra” sees the first of a pair of guests lend their throats with Ryan Kirby of Fit For A King joining the band for a slick Metalcore cut that sees the whole band give everything an extra certain something for the guest. Rather than getting his own part, the MacConville and Kirby’s voices intertwine and generate some serious power and they scream uncleans together providing the left and right punches of a prize fighter. Combing an ambient lead guitar part with a crushing main riff to give it a haunting touch “Ocean Air” brings the “Bleigh!” moment with guitarist work that most hardcore bands would kill for in the breakdown sections. The melodic chorus slows things down a notch but in a good way as it doesn’t change the tone or mood, instead adding depth and texture. MacConville is a fine storyteller with real conviction and heart that comes across in the spoken word introduction of “Rai”, a highly emotive vocal performance matching off the lyrics that tell the heartbreaking tale of a broken family and his love for his mother despite all the pain they’ve been through. The band perform to suit with some gloriously aching piano work adding to the raw feel of a beautiful song. “Early Hours” steps up the aggression while seeking balance between some ambient melody and spoken word and some skull crushing riffs. They achieve that by letting some of the rhythm guitars take a back step for the leads to come to the fore and building to a final conclusion of stunning quality.

The second guest appearance sees Scott Kennedy of Bleed From Within join for “Churchill”, a cut which gives the band a fine excuse to stack breakdowns upon breakdowns with pounding groove and go heavier than they do at any other point. Little haunting breaks between sections make the uppercut of the return draw blood and we end up with another stylishly slick track. “White Whale” keeps the intensity high and ensures that the juggernaut that is “Guided” doesn’t allow you to pause for breath. Some Tech-Metal lead flourishes backed off by some riffs that would be happily at home on a Fit For An Autopsy album, while the clean backing vocals add a sing-a-long quality. “Fearless” has a part that is similar to something heard on “Beautiful Morning” by Placebo buried in the mix while an ocean of nuances will keep the attention of even the most hardened of Metal Heads for hours on ends. A powerhouse cut in an album of powerhouse cuts that has enough of its own legs to stand on it’s own two feet and wrestle with the other tunes for supremacy. “Collateral” builds on some of the Tech-Metal elements that appear earlier in the album and weave them into the bands core sound to great effect. Some early Slipknot influenced riffs add some extra bite and it’s a fine way to round off an album of Modern Metalcore Mastery. “Guided” should take Confessions of a Traitor to parts of the Globe they’ve never seen before as this album proves they have what it takes to go toe to toe with the likes of As I Lay Dying and wrestle them for their crown [8.5/10]

Track listing

  1. Kansas
  2. Twelve
  3. Design Me
  4. A Truthful Heart
  5. Myra ft. Ryan Kirby of Fit For A King
  6. Ocean Air
  7. Rai
  8. Early Hours
  9. Churchill ft. Scott Kennedy of Bleed From Within
  10. White Whale
  11. Fearless
  12. Collateral

“Guided” by Confessions of a Traitor is out on 18th October via Sliptrick Records and is available for pre-order here

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