Dark prog metal like you’ve never heard it before
Norway’s progressive dark metal band, Madder Mortem have always been just that little bit different to other prog metal bands since their inception back in 1993. Not afraid to experiment, Madder Mortem went outside the box on their Desiderata release in 2006. Yet again the band have pushed the boundaries with their new CD, entitled Eight Ways.
Describing the new album can vary amongst listeners, but the progressive elements through the frenzy of sounds, groove guitars, doomy passages and peaceful yet powerful mellow atmospheric parts should just about cover what Eight Ways contains. All this, entwined with the wild female vocalist Agnete Kirkevaag presents for a mind-altering listening experience.
Kirkevaag is not like the other female vocalists around. Whereas most female vocalists are quite harmonic and angelic, Kirkevaag on the other hand is near the other end of the spectrum. Her screechy high pitch wails sound rather raspy and raw, and may take some time to get used to if heard for the very first time.
Although at times the cauldron of mesmerizing harmonies and guitar riffs can be slightly over the top; some passages throughout the CD have just too much going on, thus distracting you from the songs. That’s not to say that Madder Mortem’s efforts here have gone to waste, far from it. The intelligent and enigmatic music born by the band is bizarre yet delicate and in-depth and will appeal to certain kinds of metal fans. I would speak of fans of Opeth, Tool and others who follow a similar structure; although no other band that I can think of that would equal Madder Mortem.
The CD begins strangely with the odd opening track Formaldehyde. With a strong jazz infusion, the tracks begins subtle and smooth before eerie guitars start to wail and the tempo lifts. The track concludes with Kirkevaag bellowing out the tunes before a sudden stop. A Different Kind Of Hell has a dark and doomy feel to it, the song quite slow and brooding, with Kirkevaag’s vocals powerful and illuminating.
Riddle Wants To Be is another standout track. Starting slow and mellow, the tempo suddenly changes and again the crisp and precise guitars dig in again like daggers. All I Know is a beautiful ballad, sung very well by Kirkevaag. Semi-acoustic, the song glistens and glides along, with great passion and feeling. Non-threatening guitar grooves add a deeper element in the middle part of the track to give it more existence, and overall the song is one of the best. Many more songs could be described here, but I would like to mention The Eight Wave and Armour as more standout tracks on the album.
With so much exuberance within the CD, you are almost left drained by the experience, as all the musical pieces fit together in an imperfectly perfect way; much like a Picasso masterpiece. The band’s musical rollercoaster of passion, morbidity and alternation would appeal to fans of the dark progressive metal audience that would enjoy and understand Madder Mortem’s musical journey. Fans of jazz-fusion could also find themselves enjoying the musical talents of Madder Mortem. This band have always been deemed underrated, but hopefully with this album, driven by the previous Desiderata should break through the clouds and reach the level of popularity they are entitled too.
(Peaceville Records/Stomp Distribution)