Thursday 30 October 2014

Martyrdöd - Elddop (Album Review)

Album Type: Album Type
Date Released: 22/7/2014
Label: Southern Lord Records

‘Elddop’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

01. Nödkanal
02. En Jobbigt Jävel
03. Synd
04. Mer Skada Än Nytta
05. Prästernas Tid
06. Victoria
07. Tentakler
08. Slav Manual
09. Elddop
10. Skum Pä Väridens Hav
11. Varningens Klockor
12. Steg
13. Martyren
14. Hjärnspoken
15. Under Skinnet

Martyrdöd is:

Fredrik Reinedahl | Bass
Jens Bäckelin | D-beat
Mikael Kjellman | Guitar, Vocals
Pontus Redig | Guitar


Prior to listening to ‘Elddop’, Sweden’s Martyrdöd were to me just one more metal band in a sea of those with eldritch names and Scandinavian origins. They fell by the wayside along with various others that allegedly combined hardcore/crust punk and metal to critically successful effect. Turns out they do this; the problem is they do this so damn well that it cannot be ignored.

The warning signs should have come sooner, being signed to Southern Lord puts Martyrdöd in the company of The Secret, Nails and Black Breath – all bands at the vanguard of hardcore infused extreme metal today. Then there’s the whole Sweden thing, which the discerning metal fan should always get more excited about than a band coming from, say, Croydon.

At its core this is a punk band with a punk based sound, yet it is metal in its execution and metal that ultimately fuels their d-beat assault. The record sounds thick, dense wall-of-sound bass and guitars forming the core of it, with drums curiously laying lower in the mix to masterful effect. You won’t listen to ‘Elddop’ for Mikael Kjellman’s vocals, not because they are bad, but because they are largely sparsely used and sit buried in the mix, being no more important than the guitar leads gliding over them or the bass buzzing away underneath it all. The band work as a unit, the whole surpassing its parts while each plays his vital role.

Listening to ‘Elddop’ you quickly realise this is a record of riff worship, not in the soporific three-note Orange-fuelled doom sense, but in the way you felt when you first heard Bathory’s ‘Nordland’ or Sabbath’s ‘Children of the Grave’. Speaking of Bathory’s later work, the lead guitar melodies often have a folk-esque inflection, that despite coming out of nowhere never seem to be at odds with the overall sound. The verbose may call it a neo-classical bent, I’m more inclined to call it cool as fuck and leave it there.

These guitar parts manage to saturate each song with keen melody throughout. That some of these guitar leads wouldn’t be amiss on Propagandhi’s ‘Potemkin City Limits’, while others could have been taken from Wintersun’s debut, speaks volumes not just on how well written the songs are but how much the band remains rooted in each genre. Combining this with the incredible production makes the band accessible from the first listen, drawing you in whilst the more subtle fruits of the record emerge after repeat spins.

The sheer energy of it all is a joy to hear, a fiery shot of aural adrenaline borne of ostentatious crust punk roots laced with heavy metal bombast. In theory this should be as innocuous as a wild dog robed in ermine, but ultimately comes out sounding like jubilation itself.

This is a record of disparities, opposites not just attracting but sounding like they should never be apart. What Martyrdöd have achieved on ‘Elddop’ is something forward thinking bands of all walks should aspire to – confidence, triumph, the skill to bring forward every musical influence they love and turn it into a cohesive LP of brilliance.

Words by: Jake Mazlum

You can pick up a copy here

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