For those who are familiar with Southern Lord, here is another crust punk band from their ranks. Hang on, maybe they are simply “hardcore punk”, because I certainly don’t feel like I need to cleanse my ear canals of dirt with bleach after listening to this album. Unlike the American Black Breath whom we covered earlier in April, this group comes from Sweden itself, the country of legendary death metal band Entombed; the group of plain-looking, average Joe-type guys who made shredding on chainsaws a fad that has lasted even until today. Yet Martyrdöd doesn’t utilize a chainsaw sound as raw as Black Breath gratifyingly did on Sentenced to Life, which really gets on Happy Metal Guy’s sparkling nerves and partially explains why the score for this similarly-styled album is a whole two and a half points below Black Breath’s perfect score. The guitar tone simply sounds too clean as compared to Black Breath’s! It’s similar to that taste of newfound disgust you have for a once-excellent item you equipped your RPG character with when you have found a newer one with better stats [Like the Hammer of Epic Cheese that Manowar uses on their new album? – AMG]. Yes, like that magic-imbued chest armor you just trashed in Diablo 3 because you found Tyrael’s Might. You lucky bastard, you.
The vocals sound decently hoarse and gritty, fitting in with the feel of crust punk music nicely, but the guitar parts actually feature melodic guitar motifs prominently, unlike Black Breath, whom utilize bulldozing grooves that are so catchy they make you hang onto the edge of your seat and fall off in the aftermath of a particularly violent eargasm. This seems a little odd, because one usually listens to crust punk for that quick adrenaline fix in the form of grooves, and not to make your way through waves of filler sections (aka blast beats, monotonous rawr-rah vocals) peppered with guitar melodies that would sound more at home on the scores of melodic black metal bands such as Sargeist. Right from the opening track “Nog Är Nog”, the band’s knack for melodic guitar-playing is heard in the form of a mellow motif that will exhume unhappy memories and perhaps even blur your vision with a thin film of water, but as pleasing to the ear as this may be, once the sandpaper vocals and uninspiring drumming kick in, you will be left wondering if the melodic guitars simply exist to “counter-balance” the harsh sounds of the other accompanying instruments in a conflicted state of musical uncertainty of some sort.
It is never wrong to combine different genres of music to express yourself and show admiration to the musicians you look up to. Who wouldn’t want to? That indescribable joy of paying tribute to both Iron Maiden and Death in early Swedish melodic death metal projects is a prime example of such a tributary act done right. However, as much as Martyrdöd‘s guitar melodies are great to listen to as a standalone, they do not sit right with the typical “crusty” vocals and simplistic drumming, and hence, they come off as a tributary act (if it was their intention at all) done not-so-right.
The Impressionist, black-and-white album artwork looks convincing for an album with a theme about paranoia, but it simply lacks the visceral impact of Black Breath’s album artwork for Sentenced To Life too, and I doubt it would encourage most people to pick up this record at the record shop; even more so for people who might not have heard of Martyrdöd yet.
Obviously, Martyrdöd wouldn’t care what Happy Metal Guys thinks—and nor should you. It is the personal outlet of the band members, and if any of you feel for their music, go right ahead and pick this up. Stripped down to its basic elements, this is straightforward hardcore punk lacking in grooves due to uninteresting rhythmic patterns, but with a hint of black metal attitude and a tendency to lapse into unusually melodic, heavy metal-worthy guitar solos. For the more sadistic listener with a taste for the Stockholm chainsaw-buzz sound in their hardcore punk, forgo this record and pick up Black Breath’s Sentenced To Life instead.