Betzefer – “The Devil Went Down To The Holy Land” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Betzefer are Israel’s biggest metal band, well known in Europe having toured heavily over the years alongside bands like Fear Factory, Sepultura and Lamb Of God as well as playing festivals like Ozzfest and With Full Force. The band’s sound is centered around heavy groove riffing and hoarse aggro vocals very much like Down or even White Zombie, although ugly aggression is not the theme here but rather a cool rolling beat. Added to that is a youthful humor, the legacy of a band who were formed in high school (indeed their name is a take on the Hebrew for school i.e. ‘beit sefer’) initially as a one off show, but having since managed to forge their way onto this 3rd album. There’s certainly plenty to bop and shake to as Matan Cohen’s syrup thick riffs set the chundering groove on which Avital Tamir’s roaring vocals lay waste on songs like ‘Copkiller’, ‘Yuppie Six Feet Underground’ and ‘Cannibal’. Whilst the material communicates the band’s own attitude to life, they sensibly steer clear of Israeli politics and life in the Middle East in general, indeed prescribing that metal as an alternative lifestyle that may offer a solution to the disillusioned youth of their country, indeed all youth the world over?