Martyrdöd caught my interest purely because of the bands they listed as their influences. It’s shameful to admit that but hey, we’re living in a post-Last.fm world aren’t we? They reckon they’re into bands I listen to fairly regularly (Bathory), and bands that I’ve never heard before but I’m interested by the name of (Anticimex, anyone?). But the basic gist of the matter is that they’re supposed to be a crust punk act that is informed by black metal and hardcore… So, you’d expect the album to sound cheaper than an air guitar and tougher than a two-dollar steak, right? Wrong.
In actual fact, the album is positively gleaming – the riffs, while distorted and pummeling, are pristinely recorded. This is no lo-fi rusty knife, it’s a polished axe aimed straight atcha! So: Elddop is their second record for Southern Lord, and their third overall, and boy what a piece of work it is. It opens with the complex, stately heft of Nodkanal and closes with the furious acid-burn intensity of Hjarnspoken. Between those two polar extremes lie moments of sheer cathartic bliss and lengthy passages of concentrated dread. Amongst the best tracks are the grating, acrid black ‘n’ roll of Victoria – which takes a crust template and infuses it with crystalline, coal-black riffing and a throat-shredding vocal. Martyren, which appears towards the end of the record, pays particular deference to Quorthon and his band of merry Viking ancestors – check out spiralling, piercing guitar leads that scaffold the track. The rasping growls of frontman Kjellman add a tension and force to the track that tips it into the ‘instant replay’ category. It’s an undoubtable winner.
The minute-and-change running time of twelfth cut Steg is a dead giveaway that you’re in for something brutal: The chugging rhythm and Viking-metal lead is a potent combo indeed. The same goes for the relentless assault of Mer Skadda An Nytta – it’s a ruthless, pitiless attack from beginning to end. Doom even makes a few (welcome) appearances over the course of this diverse record: There’s a fat, stoned riff in Tentakler that will tickle your fancy. There’s also some ‘eavy riffin’ at the start of third cut Synd, before all hell breaks loose and the guitar pyrotechnics kick the intensity up a few notches. Elsewhere, the blistering Slav Manual and the fiery title track round out the highlight-reel cuts. Both are built around, essentially, the same rhythm – but the band add suitably bleak embellishments to each track to bring the fullest power out from the d-beat murk.
Martyrdöd, somewhat surprisingly, plough the same furrow that fellow punk/black/Viking metal confectioners Kvelertak do, and they produce largely the same results: Visceral thrills and cerebral hits are wrapped in an easily digestible sugary coating, ensuring multiple replays and a potency you don’t often find in modern ‘metal’ records. Martyrdöd strike me as a band still in thrall to the intoxicating effects of heavy metal, punk and rock ‘n’ roll… Long may they continue to ratchet out records this good. Highly recommended.
Scribed by: Ross Horton