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Madder Mortem - Deadlands CD (album) cover

DEADLANDS

Madder Mortem

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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5 stars This third full-length CD by Madder Mortem features is still my personal favorite. The music is is intricate, heavy rock with unusual vocal lines that remind me of a keyboard less King Crimson, Anekdoten or Landberk. "Distance Will Save Us" has intricate metres and reminds me of Shylock's "Ile de Fievre" at times, while "Faceless" sounds like something off Anekdoten's Vemod without the Mellotron but with a far better singer. Agnete Kirkevaag's voice can sound sweet and pure, but she also knows how to belt out and rock. Her harmonizations and vocal melodies give the songs a late sixties touch, her vocal similarities to Grace Slcik heighten that effect even, but the metal influences keep the sound modern and up to date.

This is a really fine CD that rewards multiple listens. Recommended.

Report this review (#105616)
Posted Thursday, January 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Madder Mortem are one of the most original bands of the Norway-background. Differently from the black-satan neighbours which spread in Norway, and differently from the plain romantic-gothic-dark metal (first Theatre of Tragedy, e.g.) they reach a personal formula which is very hard to define. Their sound is raw and brutal, singer's voice is far from the fairy-soprano's standards, but it's ungraceful and violent. The most intriguing side of their sound is the songwriting: fragmented structures, jumping from melodic to chaotic riffs and refrains, and a composition which remains cleverly between the short-heavy attack of the 3 mins and the (often) boring suites of more-than-10-minutes. Small pieces of epics.

Deadlands is all of this, with a feature which makes it a little masterpiece. The global sound and feeling, yet various, is one of the most desperate but well-polished illustration of what the title means: a land of waste, of hopelessness, of dying. The sadness and the cruelty of this sadness are perfectly put in very different songs: the heavy and direct assault of the opening-track; the furious rampaging race of Omnivore; the sad and slow marching of Faceless, the epic sweet and romantic of the last song.

This record is like the beautiful poem sung by an ugly and graceless princess: raw sounds and furious song-structures turn into beautiful gems. The center-piece of this is Silverspine, a long song lead by a heavy pulse which reaches its top of tension at the final screamings thrown on a simple and resolute riff.

The listening is not easy - it took me several times to enter in this unpleasant realm of twisted beauty. But you may find there rare treasures. The results are worth the patience, effort and curiosity.

Report this review (#173667)
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars On their third alum, Madder Mortem continue the changed style of the second album, presenting a good balance between doom heavy melodies, adventurous song structures, groove and an overall powerful sound that is even better then the previous album.

Madder Mortem bring a type of catchy extreme metal, combining crushing dissonance with beautiful melodic vocals. Necropol Lit and Omnivore are two short example of that and serve as an excellent introductions to the band. The music has continued in adventurous and proggy directions, Distance Will Save Us has little to do with metal, the guitars provide texture rather then riffs and a fretless bass takes the lead. One of the strongest and most intense tracks is Silverspine. It's doom rather then Prog but it's definitely more exploratory then pure doom bands like Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus. Spine-chilling music nevertheless. Jigsaw is the only weaker track, Agnete's voice sounds too strained here. Deadlands and Resonatine offer 15 more minutes of powerful dissonance and frighteningly beautiful melodies culminating in an orgiastic climax.

The 2009 Peaceville reissue added two interesting bonus tracks. Exile is a track that equals the quality of the regular tracks. It alternates soft verses that are somehow reminiscent of Siouxsie's album Peepshow with a big sweeping chorus. Also the remake of Deadlands Revisited is a real bonus, it's not a fan-only demo but a very tasty string arrangement of the original track.

If they bring out their best quality material as on this album, Madder Mortem come up with amazing music. When I made the original draft for this review in 2002 I added Let's hope they will start to enjoy some success with a releases like this, but I'm not quite sure if that happened in the intervening time. They deserve it though, a lot more then the legion of commercial Gathering copy-cats that clutter the female-fronted metal scene. 4.5 stars

Report this review (#260050)
Posted Saturday, January 9, 2010 | Review Permalink

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