Picture this, if you will. It’s Friday night, for at least a little while longer anyway. The air is thick with smoke and raised voices, illuminated only vaguely by various neon signs and their reflections off countless bottles and glasses. Here at the Angry Metal Bikerer Bar®, the music matches the mood: from a cramped corner masquerading as a stage, four angry metal guys unleash gravely growls and swagtastic riffage unto the leather and denim-clad patrons with a gritty little ditty titled “Ain’t No Party ‘Til You Hurt Somebody.” Welcome home, yo. The spirits of metal and rock ‘n roll are present tonight at this family meeting ov Jørn‘s children, brought to you by Betzefer in a vulgar display of power straight outta… Israel?!
Formed in ’98 and having released three full-lengths and as many EP’s along the way, these guys aren’t exactly an unfamiliar face to some in the Hall/crowd, yet Betzefer aren’t exactly household names either… yet. Entertain Your Force of Habit seeks to break into your house and get you to do shots with it, like some kind of metal Santa/Kool-Aid Man amalgamation that wrecks the place but leaves riff presents among the rubble. Grooves and aggression recalling Pantera with just a dash of Sacrament era Lamb of God romp their way through nearly forty minutes, and I’ll be damned if I haven’t welcomed them back with each and every spin of the album. Entertain Your Force of Habit has proven to be one of my most fun listens all year. I didn’t see that coming but there’s still time for you to learn from my mistakes.
The name of the game is Riffs, and Betzefer may as well be Charlie and the Sheens. With riffs and grooves for decades, Force of Habit comprises the staple sounds of hard rock and wraps it all in modern metal tones and production. Wammy-bar bursts, relentless drum work, and whiskey-soaked Anselmo-esque growls flourish in the sonic environment that Betzefer call home, as does the band itself. The fervor of Aharon Raagoza’s pissed-off Panteric pipes is practically palpable, propelling this already charged performance to a place of pure power (don’t worry, not that kind of power). Furthermore, I defy anyone to listen without banging their heads to the Lamb of Pantera groove of “Light Away,” or the Devildriver-meets-The Necromancers swagger of opener “One Way to No Way.” Pick any of the album’s 10 tracks and you’ll see that Betzefer rock and roll all day long, sweet Susie.
Here’s the part where I complain about stuff. First of all, I think Journey are ridiculously overrated and I hate that I hear them everywhere. Second, I think it’s bullshit that I can’t make a milkshake without a bunch of boys popping up in my yard. I also greatly dislike toes in general. Do you see where I’m going with this? With its excellent mix, infinite grooving riffage and sheer contempt for necks everywhere, Force of Habit has headbanged itself a complaint-less hole in my heartsicles. Things fly along full-throttle from start to finish, yet there’s a certain dynamic sensibility to the song structures that prevent the onslaught from ever feeling too overwhelming or rushed, and looping the album has become… well, a force of habit. When I say the Napalm Death-tinged Orange Goblinry of “Truck Leaking Gasoline” is fun, I don’t mean the NFO kind that you should be ashamed of, but rather the kind depicted in the music video for Lamb of God‘s “Redneck” that we all should strive for. With horns and middle fingers raised as high as the volume, Betzefer have crafted the kind of album that taps into the riffing heart of metal itself and reminds me just why I love this kind of music so much.
As the world continues to divide itself along imaginary lines of race and nationality, it makes me proud as a metalhead to hear the sound of my musical family ringing loud and clear from across so many miles. Force of Habit is one for the riff fan in all of us, the one that will always bang their head to Pantera and Mötörhead even if we typically writhe along to Dodecahedron or prog out to the lofty likes of Dream Theater. Welcome Betzefer into your home, celebrate with them as they tear the place up. By the time the album’s over, you’ll be right there with them and loving every second of it. What’s a little cleaning up and some new windows?