Martyrdöd

Elddop

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In a little over a decade, the Swedish d-beat, blackened crustcore band Martyrdöd has distinguished itself as a wolfpack apart. This is true even in its native country where d-beat (as in Discharge-influenced) has been the hostile guitar-and-drum expository genre of choice for years now. As evidenced by Paranoia, its Southern Lord debut in 2012, Martyrdöd has found a way to stick to its guns and yet expand its reach by employing guitar riffs and melodies that evoke Bathory's complex melodic patterns. Elddop is the band's fifth full-length. Founding trio vocalist/guitarist Micke Kjellman, drummer Jens Bäckelin, and guitarist/backing vocalist Pontus Redig, are joined by bassist and recording engineer Frederik Nordstrom, who has worked in production and engineering capacities with At the Gates, In Aeternum, In Flames, Deus Irae, Arch Enemy, and dozens of others. With all of those previous acts, he opened the well of guitar sonics, exposing possibilities in overtone and dissonant harmony. He does that here without compromising Martyrdöd's signature sound. He builds on the band's riffs, exchanging their tight sonorities with multi-dimensional ones spread out over octaves; he draws out their complex, labyrinthine melodies yet never attempts to change the basic mode of assault. That skittering, off-kilter, careening drum beat is at the fore, pushing everything harder and often playing counterpoint. While the momentarily slow, foreboding intro to opener "Nödkanal" is so darkly lyrical one wonders initially what band this is, as soon as Bäckelin's kit moves directly at the midtempo guitars and Kjellman starts screaming, there's no mistake. There are more brazenly trademark jams here too, such as the blast, burn, and chug that frame the craziness in "En Jobbig Jävel," "Slavmanual," "Skum På Världens Hav," "Steg," and "Varningens Klockor." Crust punk is underscored by a wild progression in the vanguard guitar edges in "Mer Skada Än Nytta" and the more darkly classicist "Prästernas Tid." One can hear developments on early Metallica and Slayer in the stellar "'Martyren." Elddop reveals Martyrdöd evolving, using scalar dissonance and pinch harmonics, not only in riffs but in brief, searing guitar solos and in the polyrhythmic approach in the percussion arena, always with d-beat and crustpunk at the fore even when blackened or death metal tries to carry the show. With over 14 tracks, Elddop is relentless, raging, volatile, and exciting as much for its aggression as its progression and production. It is not only a worthy companion to Paranoia, but it's just as brilliant and uncompromising in extending its creative reach. Also included is track titled "Under Skinnet," written and sung cleanly by Stockholm punk legend Kaisa Grytt. The band does its thing, she does hers, and the stylistic juxtaposition is killer.

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